Joining Worlds

The Archive Project

Harry Howe, fellow to Chengdu, China 1948-1951

Picture’s from Harry Howe’s (Rep. to Chengdu, China 1948-1951) scrapbook on his time in China with Shansi.

As one of the oldest educational exchange programs in the U.S., Oberlin Shansi has a rich history, and fortunately, some of that history has been documented over the years with pictures, letters and other material culture by Shansi Reps, Fellows, partners, and staff members.

Carl Jacobson, Oberlin Shansi Executive Director from 1981-2012, in collaboration with Ken Grossi at the the Oberlin College Archives, Ann Sherif (Professor of East Asian Studies, Oberlin College), and Bonnie Cheng (Associate Professor of Art History and East Asian Studies, Oberlin College) digitized a comprehensive sample of Shansi’s material archives. With help from a Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, Carl and Ken elucidated and contextualized the significant history of the Oberlin Shansi organization through their co-written introduction “Oberlin in Asia: A digital collection documenting the sharing of the ideals of learning and labor.”

The online collection highlights the wealth of Shansi records stored in the Oberlin College Archives. Such items as photos from the early 20th century and full issues of the former Shansi newsletter Dragon Tracks, published from 1938-1946, can be accessed, read, and explored. To visit this website, please click here.

As a result of this project, a portion of Shansi’s materials have become accessible to people all over the world. In addition to Oberlin professors integrating these materials into their classes, scholars have discovered the website and sometimes find the information so comprehensive that they travel in person to the Oberlin College Archives, which houses many Shansi artifacts in several different collections. Click here to browse the collection. To see a timeline that sketches out the story of Oberlin Shansi, click here.