Document 17: "Commencement Exercises," Oberlin Evangelist, 11 September 1861, p. 151.

Introduction

       Until the 1870s, women at Oberlin Commencement continued to write and read essays, while refraining from public speaking without notes which was associated with the male virtues of strength, virility and aggression. Moreover, Oberlin women, in both the Female Department and the College Class, generally wrote essays on topics that included nature, poetry and domesticity, while male students were tackling subjects like patriotism and war in their orations.

THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST

_________________________________________________________

Commencement Exercises.

        As usual, the young Ladies who graduate from the four years' Ladies Course occupied Tuesday afternoon. They numbered thirty-one, and each one appeared in her place with her essay. Of course the time allotted to each was short--about five minutes, but, consequently, the variety was great. The general voice rates the ability of these essays high.

The subjects and authors were as follows:

The Heroine of Haworth--Lucinda M. Adams, Beloit, Wis.
The Great Panorama--Sara C. Adams, Columbia.
The Forest--Hattie Atwater, Oberlin.
Mary Lyon--Mary J. Bedortha, Oberlin.
To Do and To Suffer--Kate M. Beecher, Oberlin.
Early Home Influences--S.J. Bevier, Plymouth.
Our Country--Delia E. Cable, Brownhelm.
Remembered or Forgotten--Ann E. Collins, Chatham.
Jonah's Visit to Nineveh--Mary A. Cooley, Oberlin.
The Philosophy of History--Mary P. Davis, Mundy, Mich.
Two Pictures--Louise R. Drew, Bloomingdale, Ill.
The Sunset Beam--F.E. Gilbert, Lyme, N.H.
The Gifts of Morning--Hattie M. Holtslander, Oberlin.
"Sermons in Stones"--L. Ophelia Hungerford, Union City, Mich.
Patriotism--Frank E. Hyde, Utica, N.Y.
The Farmer--Huldah A. Jackson, Amherst.
A Norway Legend--Sara E. Kinney, Oberlin.
The Mission of the Star--Elisabeth C. Pomeroy, Strongsville.
What Has Become of the Girls?--Julia A. Prentiss, Oberlin.
The Book of Nature--Ella S. Risley, Oberlin.
The Province of Reason--Fannie M. Rogers, Ashtabula.
Spectacles--Adelia A. Safford, Oberlin.
A New Canvass--L.E. Sparhawk, Tallmadge.
"Lazy Peg"--Angie C. Steward, Frederickstown.
"The Wanderer"--Melissa R. Tenney, Amherstville.
The City of Light"--Mary A. Tibbets, Blissfield, Mich.
Nature's House-Cleaning--Fannie D. Turner, Oberlin.
Association of Forces--Charlotte VanWyck, Fishkill, N.Y.
Sunshine and Shower--M.L. Waring, Beloit, Wis.
Stolen Pearls--Libbie M. Wilcox, Madison.
The Homeless Nation--Elizabeth A. Woodward, Lordstown.

        The College Class proper filled the hours of Wednesday morning; their number in the total, twenty-nine; of whom six were in the camp and war-field in Virginia[A], having enlisted to serve during the war. The usual degree of A.B. was conferred on them, however, inasmuch as their course was nearly completed and was so far highly satisfactory.

        Six of the remainder were young ladies who took part by reading essays. Seventeen young gentlemen were present to speak and to graduate. Subjects as follows:

Nature an Educator--John Rodney Barnes, Southington.
Thorough Thinking--Henry Edwards Brown, Greenwich Station.
____* Charles Hall Buxton, Batavia, N.Y.
Trusting--Essay by Emily M. Bowen, York.
God's Love of the Beautiful--Joseph Brown Davison, Oberlin.
True Enthusiasm--Henry Kellog Day, Sheffield.
Agriculture--Essay by Marietta Day, Sheffield.
The Functions of Man--Charles Alexander Dorsey, Philadelphia, Pa.
Mud Sills--Harvey William Everest, Hiram.
An Age of Passion--Curtis Treat Fenn, Tallmadge.
The Two Revivals--Darius Newton Goodrich, Jr., West Meriden, Ct.
The Soldier's Returning--Poem by Lucy K. Fairchild, Oberlin.
____* Burford Jeakins, Beloit, Wis.
The Mission of Invention--Lovejoy Johnson, Kishwaukee, Ill.
Revelations--Carlos Albert Kenaston, Oberlin.
Our Country--Essay by Levancia Holcomb, Oberlin.
Shelley in Queen Mab--William Wirt Kinsley, Adrian, Mich.
This World a Theater--James Laird, Clinton, Mass.
Our History in Our Words--Essay by Julia Reed Hosford, Olivet, Mich.
____* Samuel John Marshall, Painesville.
____* Elan Brittain Myers, Bristol, Ind.
____* William Watts Parmenter, Mt. Vernon.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning--Perry William Payne, Oberlin.
If We Knew--Essay by Keziah Smith, Oberlin.
Oriental Imagery--Theodore W. Pease, Oberlin.
Benefits of War--Henry Nelson Penfield, East Berlin, Ct.
Results of Revolution--George W. Phinney, Russell.
Yankees--Essay by Marcia C. West, Silver Creek, N.Y.
Russell and the London Times--Albert Allen Safford, Oberlin.
____* William Henry Scott, Grass Valley, Cal.

        The closing exercises of the Theological Department in the afternoon were also curtailed by the war, three out of the seven who have constituted the class, being now in Virginia amid the perils of war. Their schedule we give.

____* E. Hudson Baker, Battle Creek, Mich.
Freedom of Speech In the Pulpit--John Day, Cobourg, C.W.[B]
The Moral Force of Events--Wm. W. Foote, Morgan.
Christianity in its Relation to the Present Age--Henry Matson, Ellsworth.
God in our National Troubles--Joseph D. Millard.
____* Alexander Parker, Irvine, Scotland.
Christian Homes--Orange H. Spoor, Georgia, Vt.
____* L.G. Warren, Russia.

*In the Federal Army.

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Endnotes

A. Oberlin men, including Oberlin College students, were members of Company C of the 7th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The men on duty were recognized in the commencement program by an asterisk in the place of the title for their graduation addresses.
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B. Canada West.
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