Document 6B: 1855 Annual Report of the Oberlin Female Moral Reform Society, Record Book 1835-57, Records of the Oberlin Female Moral Reform Society, Record Group 31/6/11, Oberlin College Archives.

May 1, 1855.

       The Annual Meeting was held in the Chapel. Mrs. Peck Pres.[A] opened by prayer from Mrs. Cowles. The annual report was read and accepted. A letter prepared by the Secretary to the Parent So. was then read and accepted. Officers were next chosen.

        Committee
For Pres.     Mrs. Prof. Peck Mrs. Fitch
Vice Pres        "   Cowles[B] Field
Sec. & Treas. "    C.E. Johnson[C]

Consultation was had as to plans for the coming year. It was proposed that our meetings should [be] held as often as once in three months. Ladies were appointed to visit generally through town to enlist strangers & others in the cause & invite them to attend. At 5 o'clock the ladies connected with the Institution came in, nearly 300 were present; interesting addresses were made by Mrs. Finney,[D] Dascomb, Cowles Hudson & others.

Annual Report for 1855.

As hour after hour the stroke of the clock falls on the ear of the weary watcher marking the silent lapse of the hours of night; so does each returning anniversary of our Society measure off to us year after year of our portion of time; leaving us less and less in which to labor and watch and pray.

Pause we here, dear sisters, as the index on the dial plate points to another of these way marks and listen to the enquiry, Watchman what of the night? Doth the morning yet dawn? are there any streakings of light in the horizon, betokening the approach of "the Sun of Righteousness with healing on his wings,"[E] whose songs shall dispel the damps of moral corruption, which have so long brooded over our world? What report have we today of the past years labors and success? What have we done for the moral purification of Society around us? Can we each testify to increased & unwearied vigilence over that portion of our Master's vineyard allotted us? Have we suffered no moral taint to blight the buds of promise no unsightly mildew to destroy the plants of our care? Have we guarded with Argus eyes[F] every avenue through which the tempter seeks to enter and lay waste? If so then we can truly say "all is well." But as we have look[ed] from our peaceful and happy homes abroad over the wide, wide world and marked how licentiousness still stalks forth with emboldened front, how mankind still riot in their baser passions and glory in their shame, how the sacred ties of marriage have been ruthlessly torn asunder and the precious sweets of domestic life turned into gall and wormwood; as "our ear has been pained our soul sickened with every day's report of wrong and outrage;" "have we not wished we might do something yea much, to lessen this load of human misery?" Blessed are we then among women[G] for has not Providence thrown in our way material with which we may do a great work for the world's renovation and when the youthful minds over whom we may now exert a healthful moral influence shall go forth into the world to shut the floodgates of iniquity and stem the tide of moral impurity who shall tell the amount of good which shall be accomplished. Our doings in the capacity of a Society for the past year are soon told, two or three meetings were held in the earlier part of the year in which the subject of dress as connected with our health and morals was discussed with much interest & we hope profit. Two bundles have been sent to the Home.[H] So much want and destitution have existed in our midst, so many calls for Charity at our very doors, that no means seemed left to be dispersed abroad. Thirty five names have been added to the So. since the last annual meeting.

C.E. Johnson, Sec.

 

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A. Mrs. Peck, the wife of Henry E. Peck, an assistant teacher 1844-65, served as president of the OFMRS, 1851-1855.
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B. Mrs. Minerva D.P. Cowles, the second wife of Professor Henry Cowles, served as president and vice president of the OFMRS.
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C. Cornelia E. Johnson, secretary and treasurer of the OFMRS, 1851-1855, held possession of these minutes after the society ceased meeting; her granddaughter, Cornelia M. Johnson, donated them to the Oberlin Archives.
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D. Mrs. Elizabeth Atkinson Finney (1801-63), married Charles G. Finney in 1848; she served on the Women's Board of Managers 1851-63, and was president and vice president.
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E. "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings," Malachi 4:2.
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F. Argus was a monster in Greek myth with multiple eyes that allowed him to see almost everything around him. The relevant myth involves Argus guarding Zeus's mistress, Io, from the scorned Hera, Zeus's wife.
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G. "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the child you shall bear!" Luke 1:42.
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H. The Home referred to is the House of Industry and Home for the Friendless, run by the American Female Moral Reform Society in New York City.
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