Contextualizing Objects in the Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection


The Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection consists of objects and artifacts donated to the college by primarily Oberlin alumni who served overseas as teachers and missionaries. Though the collection consists of material culture from a wide array of peoples, there isn’t much background provided about where these objects are from, who brought them, and their cultural significance.  This exhibit delves deeper into the historical and cultural past from which the objects came. Through analysis of Oberlin archival material and other outside sources, we hope to place these objects in their indigenous, Oberlin, and greater world contexts.

Funded by a 2011 Next Generation Library Faculty Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Five Colleges of Ohio: "A Digital Resource for the Investigation of Culture Contact and Colonialism".


Anthropology 456: Culture Contact and Colonialism, instructed by Amy Margaris. Student contributors include Alex Howard '14, Anna Edwards '13, Genevieve Senechal '14, Angela Garcia '13, and Victoria Costikyan '14.


-Bone Throwing, Bible Toting-

Examining the contact dynamics and cultural resistance between American missionaries and Zulu people at Adams Mission Station in Natal, South Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Researched, written, compiled by Alex Howard, Oberlin College '14.

-Gilbertese Warfare-

A closer look into the artifacts Oberlin Alumni Edward Church collected from the Gilbert Islands in Mircronesia during the late 1800s.

Researched, written, compiled by Anna Edwards, Oberlin College '13.

-A Missionary in Siam-

Examination of Dan Beach Bradley's time as a missionary in Bangkok, Siam, 1835-1873.

Researched, written, and compiled by Genevieve Senechal, Oberlin College '14.

-Robert Logan: Missionary Work in the Caroline Islands-

Exploration into Oberlin Protestant missionary Robert Logan and the Native populations of the Caroline Islands in the Caroline Islands in the 1880s. 

Researched, written, compiled by Angela Garcia '13 and Victoria Costikyan '14