Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wartime Wednesday: Oberlin and the Civil War

Wartime Wednesday: Oberlin and the Civil War

Statistics vary, but suffice to say there are 4,000 to 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States, so it’s not possible to know about all of them. Thanks to Tamera Krafts Ladies of Oberlin series, I now know about Oberlin College, originally Oberlin Collegiate Institute.

Located about forty miles southwest of Cleveland and approximately ten miles from Lake Erie, Oberlin has a fascinating history. Founded in 1833 by two Presbyterian ministers in response to what they saw as the immoral West, the town began as a religious community and a training facility for missionaries. It is named for the Alsatian minister Johann Friedrich Oberlin who taught in poor areas in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

The school was chartered a year later with a motto of “Learning and Labor,” and the first class had four students. Oberlin is the oldest coeducational liberal arts college in the U.S. and the second oldest continuously operation coeducational institute of higher learning in the world. Its conservatory is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the U.S. In 1835, Oberlin was one of the first colleges to admit African Americans, and two years later the first to admit women.

Abolitionist and preacher Charles Finney was named president in 1850, and he served until 1866. Under his leadership the college’s faculty and students increased their activity in the abolitionist movement. Oberlin was a key stop in the Underground Railroad.

As most of you know, I’m an avid reader of historic fiction. I love the combination of entertainment and education. Tamera Kraft’s novel Lost in the Storm does both. Here is my review:

This is the second in the Ladies of Oberlin series, but the book was easily read as a stand-alone. I am well-versed in the Civil War era, yet I was unaware of how the history of Oberlin College fit into this period. I have greatly enjoyed my journey through time learning about this intriguing segment. I loved Lavena. She was spunky and sassy without acting modern, and she was very relatable as she tried to forge her way in a man’s industry (journalism). She plowed ahead, and had realistic responses when things went awry, but took her commitment to getting the story seriously and continued on despite fear and trepidation. Cage is a wonderful hero, a fascinating mix of integrity, confidence, and doubt as he struggled with past issues. I loved his relationship with the Chaplain (who I hope gets his own book!). The author has obviously done her research which enriches the story with societal, cultural and colloquial references. Highly recommended.

I was provided an Advanced Reader Copy from the author. A positive review was not required, and all opinions are my own.

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