The papers consist of copies, both photocopies and typescript, of letters and other documents; notes taken by Lawson and Merrill; correspondence created in search of source material and potential publishing vehicles, and in writing to others doing similar research; articles and drafts of articles; photographs and slides of Oberlin College and town individuals and families; and other records of a like nature. Records created the last two years also reflect "spin off" interests followed by Ms. Lawson in such areas as oral history in Oberlin, proposals to investigate black women at Radcliffe, and to create a dictionary of early women college graduates, an article on Mary E. Johnston, and work concerning the Organization of American Historians/Association of Black Women Historians project.
In this group of papers collected during the research project are 58 files of documents and notes on individual students or families. Of these, two noteworthy "firsts" were Lucy Ann Stanton (Day/Sessions), the first black woman to graduate from an American college (Lit. 1850); and Mary Jane Patterson, the first black woman to receive the A.B. degree (1862). The collection also includes material on such prominent women as Frances M. Jackson (Coppin), principal of the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia for 37 years and a leader in classical (college- preparatory) education; Sarah Jane Woodson, alleged to be the granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson; Rosetta Douglass (Sprague), daughter of Frederick Douglass; Emily and Mary Edmondson, sent to Oberlin by Harriet Beecher Stow (file includes transcriptions of letters from Stowe); Sarah Margru Kinson (Green), the first African woman to attend college in United States, who then returned to Africa as a missionary; Mahala McGuyire (Gray), a black American missionary to Africa; Caroline M. Wall Langston who married John Mercer Langston and became prominent in Washington circles; and Mary Church Terrell (who studied at Oberlin after 1865), founding member of the NAACP, suffragist, and the first black school-board member in Washington, D.C. There are extensive research notes on Sarah M. Kinson (Green).
Subjects covered include race relations at Oberlin, First Church in Oberlin (Congregational), black communities in Cincinnati and Cleveland, black women teachers of the American Missionary Association, female preparatory students, and back women and temperance. Several lists of black students at Oberlin are included. In addition to the personal papers of individuals, records exist for the American Missionary Association. Finally, there are copies of articles by others on topics related to black women and education and revisions of papers by Lawson and Merrill.
Note: Entries taken from William E. Bigglestone's unpublished "[preliminary] Guide to the Oberlin College Archives" (which was prepared as individual entry sheets in a three-ring binder during the early 1980s), and Guide to the Women's History Sources in the Oberlin College Archives, pg. 61.