Unexpected Journeys: Oberlin College Missionaries

There are approximately 1600 items in the Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection, which is a database of objects that represent cultures spanning the globe. These curiosities were collected during the late 19th and early 20th century by Oberlin College alumni and friends, who served as missionaries and teachers abroad.

This research project examines the experiences that these American missionaries had with each other as well as with the indigenous people of Natal, South Africa and Rhodesia, East Africa.

Unexpected Journeys serves as a resource for students and professional who are interested in anthropology, history, religion, and African studies.


A grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Five Colleges of Ohio for the integration of digital collections into the liberal art curriculum supports the creation of this web interface. Geneva Dampare (OC ‘12) served as the research and production assistant for this phase of the project. Project Co-Directors: Linda Grimm, Emerita Associate Professor, and Amy V. Margaris, Assistant Professor, Depart of Anthropology, Oberlin College. Library staff members who provided vital assistance include Alan Boyd, Assistant Director of Libraries; Ken Grossi, Oberlin College Archivist; Anne Salsich, Assistant Archivist; Louisa Hoffman, Archival Assistant; Megan Mitchell, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Xi Chen, East Asian and Web Development Librarian. Cecilia Robinson, Electronic and Continuing Resources Assistant, provided invaluable assistance in the development and synthesis of the metadata.