Gladys Oberlin papers, 1943-1980  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Oberlin, Gladys, 1908-
Gladys Oberlin papers
1943-1980 (inclusive)
2.5 linear feet, (5 containers, 1 package, loose volumes)
Collection Number
Coll 050
Gladys Oberlin (1908-1996) was a Christian missionary who taught school and developed nutritional programs in Brazil from 1943 to 1981. The collection includes correspondence, diaries, publications, and photographs that reflect her work as a missionary.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
UO Libraries--SPC, 1299
University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 541-346-3068
Fax: 541-346-3485
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public.

Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.

Multiple languages
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Gladys Oberlin (1908-1996) grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. In 1943, Oberlin traveled to Brazil as a Methodist Missionary where she taught home economics at Bennett College in Rio de Janeiro. Seeing more challenges in her work, Oberlin decided to leave Bennett College in 1948. She moved to the Rural Institute in Itapina, Espirito Santo, Brazil. There, she experimented with the available vegetation in an effort to increase the nutritional value of local foods. She continued with this work until her missionary furlough in 1954.

Following a year-long furlough in the United States, Oberlin accepted a new position as the director of the Instituto Ana Gonzago, an orphanage in Rio de Janeiro. As director of 175 children, Oberlin taught religious classes. She remained there until 1959 when she began teaching at the Instituto Central de Povo.

In 1960, Oberlin became involved in field work in Rio Grande do Sul. She returned to nutritional experiments and was instrumental in establishing a nutritional program at the Redife community center that provided multi-purpose food (MPF) in the form of a high-protein dietary supplement to the region's poor and undernourished. As educational counselor, she developed and implemented educational nutrition and hygiene projects. She and her assistants compiled several pamphlets and presentations, including a filmstrip, on nutrition. She remained in Recife and the surrounding area until her retirement in 1976. Within a year, however, she was called back to the Recife suburbs because of a need for nutritional and hygiene programs there. She remained there until her final retirement in 1981 when she returned to the United States.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of correspondence and material documenting her missionary work in Brazil. The correspondence contains both in-coming and out-going letters and is arranged chronologically from 1943 to 1979. This makes up the majority of this collection. Oberlin's correspondence includes letters from other missionaries, Peace Corps workers, Methodist missionary circles in the United States, and friends. Her own letters describe the problems and difficulties she faced as well as the living conditions and needs of local Brazilians.

The remainder of the collection contains materials that relate either directly or indirectly to Brazil. Included are loose diary pages, addresses, lecture materials, bibliographic sources for Latin America, a filmstrip on nutrition, educational material on nutrition and printed matter concerning the multi-purpose food program sponsored by Meals for Millions. Much of the material is written in Portuguese and many therefore present difficulties for the researcher. In spite of this and the fact that the material itself is not extensive, it does give the researcher an idea of the work undertaken by Oberlin while in Brazil. Posters that had been used for educational purposes are stored at the end of the collection, and the filmstrip has been separated from this collection into Special Collections Photographs collections.

There are approximately 50 photographic prints that primarily document the nutritional problems of Oberlin's Brazil clientele, and the children of the orphanage.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Available in microfilm as part of: Women's lives. Series 3, American women missionaries and pioneers collection (MICROFILM BV3703 .W66 2006, reel 72-74); Primary Source Microfilm, 12 Lunar Dr., Woodbridge, Conn. 06525.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections & University Archives. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections & University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Archival material may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.

If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Gladys Oberlin papers, Coll 050, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  CorrespondenceReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
December 1943-April 1946
1 2
November 1946-December 1947
1 3
January 1948-September 1952
1 4
April 1953
1 5
April 1953-May 1953
1 6
June 1953-September 1953
1 7
October 1953-December 1953
1 8
January 1954-June 1954
1 9
June 1954-November 1954
1 10
April 1955-April 1956
1 11
May 1956-December 1956
1 12
January 1957-May 1957
1 13
May 1957-December 1957
1 14
May 1958-February 1959
1 15
February 1959-May 1959
1 16
June 1959-January 1960
1 17
March 1960-December 1960
1 18
January 1961-October 1961
1 19
November 1961-February 1962
1 20
March 1962-April 1962
1 21
April 1962-June 1962
1 22
July 1962-September 1962
1 23
September 1962-December 1962
1 24
January 1963-May 1963
1 25
June 1963-October 1963
1 26
November 1963-December 1963
1 27
January 1964-February 1964
1 28
March 1964-June 1964
1 29
June 1964-November 1964
1 30
April 1965-November 1966
1 31
July 1966-April 1967
1 32
May 1967-November 1967
1 33
December 1967
1 34
January 1968-June 1968
1 35
November 1968-December 1968
1 36
January 1969-May 1971
1 37
May 1971-December 1974
1 38
January 1975-April 1977
1 39
October 1977-May 1980
1 40

Series II:  Miscellaneous material related to BrazilReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 1
March 1956-February 1967
2 2
Speeches. Brazil and U.S.A
2 3
Speeches. Brazil and U.S.A
2 4
Speeches. Brazil and U.S.A
2 5
Lecture material. Christian Mission in Latin American Countries
2 6
Lecture material. Christian Mission in Latin American Countries
2 7
Latin American sources and notes
2 8
Latin American sources and notes
2 9
Latin American sources and notes
2 10
Latin American sources and notes
2 11
Educational material. Nutrition pamphlets
2 12
Educational material. Nutrition
2 13
Educational material. Nutrition
2 14
Multi-Purpose Food (MPF) information
2 15
Personal papers. Passport
2 16
Personal papers
2 17
Miscellaneous papers
3 1
3 2
4 2
Film strip, "Voce é o Que Voce Come"

Series III:  Photographs (PH047), 1940s-1980sReturn to Top

1.0 linear feet
Oberlin, Gladys, 1908-1996
Container(s) Description Dates

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Missions, American--Brazil
  • Nutrition--Brazil
  • Public health--Brazil
  • Women Christian educators--Brazil
  • Women missionaries--Brazil
  • Personal Names :
  • Oberlin, Gladys, 1908---Correspondence
  • Corporate Names :
  • Methodist Church (U.S.)--Missions--Brazil
  • Geographical Names :
  • Brazil--Photographs
  • Brazil--Social conditions--1945-1964
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Motion pictures
  • Photographic prints.