The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Oberlin, Jean Frédéric

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OBERLIN, Jean Frédéric, ō-bĕr-lăṅ, Alsatian clergyman and philanthropist: b. Strassburg, 31 Aug. 1740; d. Ban-de-la-Roche, 1 June 1826. He was educated at Strassburg and in 1767 became pastor at Ban-de-la-Roche. There he spent the rest of his long life in labor for the material and spiritual improvement of his degraded parishioners. He practised medicine among them, founded a loan and savings bank, introduced cotton manufacture, helped the people build better roads, and brought in modern agricultural methods. His orphan asylums were the beginning of the many “Oberlinvereine” for the protection of children. Beside all this he was a man of rare spirituality, being frequently styled “a saint of the Protestant church,” and an excellent pastor, who preached each month three sermons in French and one in German. Oberlin College (q.v.), Ohio, was named in his honor. Consult the biographies by Butler (English, 1882); Lutteroth (French, 1826; a German version, 1890); and Hackenschmidt (German, 1902); and the life and works of Oberlin as edited by Hilpert and Stoeber (German, 1843).