1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Oberlin, Jean Frédéric

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OBERLIN, JEAN FRÉDÉRIC (1740-1826), German Protestant pastor and philanthropist, the son of a teacher, was born on the 31st of August 1740 at Strassburg, where he studied theology. In 1766 he became Protestant pastor of Waldbach, a remote and barren region in the Steinthal (Ban-de-la-Roche), a valley in the Vosges on the borders of Alsace and Lorraine. He set himself to better the material equally with the spiritual condition of the inhabitants. He began by constructing roads through the valley and erecting bridges, inciting the peasantry to the enterprise by his personal example. He introduced an improved system of agriculture. Substantial cottages were erected, and various industrial arts were introduced. He founded an itinerant library, originated infant schools, and established an ordinary school at each of the five villages in the parish. In the work of education he received great assistance from his housekeeper, Louisa Scheppler (1763-1837). He died on the 1st of June 1826, and was interred with great manifestations of honour and affection at the village of Urbach.

Among the many accounts of the labours of Oberlin, mention may be made of Thomas Sims, Brief Memorials of Oberlin (London, 1830); Memoirs of Oberlin, with a short notice of Louisa Scheppler (London, 1838, 2nd ed. 1852); H. Ware, Biography of Oberlin (Boston, 1845); L. Spach, Oberlin le pasteur (Strassburg, 1865, 2nd ed. 1868); F. W. Bodemann, J. F. Oberlin (3rd ed., 1879); K. F. Riff, Drei Bilder aus dem Leben von Papa Oberlin (Strassburg, 1880); Josephine Butler, Life of J. F. Oberlin (1882); G. H. von Schubert, Züge aus dem Leben Oberlins (11th ed., 1890); Armin Stein, Johann Friedrich Oberlin, ein Lebensbild (1899). See also the article in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie. The collected writings of Oberlin were published by Burkhardt at Stuttgart in 1843 in 4 vols.