Contextualizing Objects in the Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection


This section attempts to contextualize several objects found in the Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection, as well as explore why the specific artifacts were brought back to the United States.

Edward Church, who graduated from Oberlin College in 1863, contributed several items to the OCEC from Micronesia. Five of these objects were from the Gilbert Islands, and all were related to warfare. Although it is unknown whether Church was a missionary, we do know that he was a teacher, and eventually president, of Oahu College in Hawaii from 1865 to 1875. Whether he travelled to islands in Micronesia and collected items along the way, or was stationed there working as a missionary, the objects Church brought back to Oberlin College present a fascinating portrayal of Gilbertese culture. 

Written, researched, and compiled by Anna Edwards, Oberlin College '13, Spring 2013.