The papers of Ellsworth C. Carlson document his undergraduate days at Oberlin College, his years as an Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association representative to China and Shansi board member, his professional contributions as a faculty exchange member, and his special interest in East Asian History. About one-third of this collection documents Carlson's service as a Shansi representative to China and OSMA board member correspondence. Of some significance are two (Chinese) maps, hand-written statistics, and tabular data compiled by Carlson (ca. 1941) tracing the Ming Hsien migrations after the Japanese invaded China in 1937 (see Series 3).
The collection has been arranged in twelve series: 1. Biographical Files; 2. Letters Sent Home (from Oberlin College); 3. Files Relating to OSMA; 4. Correspondence; 5. Miscellany; 6. Faculty and Student Exchanges; 7. Scholarly Publications; 8. Speeches and Talks; 9. Files of Florence “Bobbie” Carlson; 10. Files relating to The Oberlin Band: the Christian Mission in Shansi, 1882-1900 (Materials are arranged chronologically within folders), 11. Photographs and Albums, and 12. Moving Images.
Although a Professor of History at Oberlin College for over thirty years, documentation on his teaching at Oberlin College is very thin. For instance, no teaching files, other than those covering his faculty exchanges, are included in these papers.
Carlson's professional memberships were extensive, but no materials exist in this collection to document these contributions in a specific way. For the basic information that does exist, researchers should reference Series 1.
The initial accession (1985/025) contained duplicate copies of OSMA board member minutes (around 1.1 l.f.), which are found in RG 15: Records of the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association.
A number of documents relating to Carlson's term as Provost and his Acting Presidency in 1970 and 1974 were also of a duplicate character. For reference to these papers, researchers should inquire about RG 2: Presidents, and RG 4: Office of the Provost. A succinct summary of a 1974 assembly talk given by Carlson as Acting President can be found in the Oberlin Alumni Magazine (Nov/Dec, 1974): 5-6.
Series 9 is devoted to the writings and correspondence of Florence “Bobbie” Dunn Carlson, Ellsworth’s spouse. Series 11, from Florence Carlson, consists of photographs documenting the couple’s life in China from 1939 to the 1940s, and a 1985 trip to the same locations.
Series 12 includes films taken in the 1940s by the Carlsons at Oberlin and Jintang, China.
Series I. Biographical Files, 1939, 1941-42, 1955-56, 1958-63, 1967-70, 1973-75, 1977-82, 1999; 0.1 l.f. (4 folders)
This series contains primarily clippings and resume-like information on Carlson and serves as a good overview of Carlson's professional life. Arranged chronologically.
Series II. Letters Sent Home (from Oberlin College), 1935-39; 0.3 l.f. (4 folders)
Consists of over 150 letters Carlson wrote home to his parents, siblings, and friends during his undergraduate days at Oberlin College. Many of them detail what college life was like at the end of the Depression; for example, Carlson often writes about being personally short of money and not being able to find employment. Arranged chronologically.
Series III. Files Relating to OSMA, 1939-47, 1950, 1954-56, 1958-69, 1971-73, 1975-81; 1.0 l.f. (15 folders)
Documentation relating to Carlson's service to the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association is substantial. Included are files as a young Shansi rep and as a member of the Shansi executive board. One folder contains a summary of the speech Carlson made at the Far Eastern Conference at Yale University (1964) detailing Oberlin's Shansi Program. For more detail on Carlson's involvement, researchers should reference RG 15: records of OSMA. Chronologically arranged.
Series IV. Correspondence, 1944, 1951-69, 1972-73, 1975-80, 1988; 0.3 l.f. (5 folders)
Consists primarily of miscellaneous professional correspondence. Included is a 1951 letter to President Truman asking that Dr. John Fairbank of Harvard University be granted one year to do research on Communism in Japan. Occasionally sprinkled with personal correspondence in the form of postcards, greeting cards, and letters from friends. Chronologically arranged.
Series V. Miscellany, 1965-66, 1968-69, n.d.; 0.1 l.f. (2 folders)
Contains an unpublished paper Carlson wrote while a graduate student at Harvard University: "The Problems of Mining Development in China During the Early Years of the Nanking Regime" (n.d.). Also contains one folder documenting Carlson's contributions to the Interim Judicial Board, 1965-66, 1968-69, n.d. Arranged chronologically.
Series VI. Faculty and Student Exchanges, 1956-58, 1964, 1967-68, 1977-80, n.d.; 0.4 l.f. (11 folders)
This series primarily documents Carlson's many faculty exchanges abroad. One folder documents the Oscar Edward Anderson Lectureship in History at Oberlin College -- a program Carlson helped pioneer in 1977 -- that brought History Professor Hunter Dupree (OC'40) to Oberlin in 1978. Included also here are two folders detailing Carlson's involvement with the People's Republic of China (PRC) Exchange programs during 1977-79. The first folder documents the re-initialization of exchanges between Oberlin College students and Chinese students. The second folder documents Carlson's membership in the Ohio College Association and the American/Chinese exchanges arranged through this state-wide organization. Chronologically arranged.
Series VII. Scholarly Publications, 1935, 1941, c.1943-44, 1949, 1961- 67, 1974-78, 1979-80, 1982-83; 0.2 l.f. (7 folders)
This series contains book reviews both of and by Carlson, reprints, correspondence and research notes for an article on Lydia Lord Davis written for the Autumn 1980 Oberlin Alumni Magazine, and miscellaneous publications such as a copy of "Oberlin in Asia" and "The Kailan Mines." Other than a typed draft of an unpublished biography on (Sarah) Luella Miner, only finished publications are included here. Chronologically arranged.
Series VIII. Speeches and Talks, 1953-56, 1959-67, 1969, 1977-80, 1985, n.d.; 0.4 l.f. (5 folders)
File contains internal as well as external speeches given over four decades. Purposes for speeches range from OSMA promotional talks to general educational presentations given outside the Oberlin College community. The audiences included Oberlin College students and staff, and external church groups, city groups, and clubs, mostly in and around Oberlin and Cleveland, Ohio. Topics centered on OSMA recruitment, East Asian studies and history, and issues of Communism. Chronologically arranged.
Series IX. Files of Florence "Bobbie" Carlson, 1940-42, 1949, 1952-68, 1973-75, 1981, 1992-93, 1999, ca. 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007-08; 0.4 l.f. (16 folders)
Consists of diaries, correspondence to family members and friends, condolences and testimonials from friends following the death of Ellsworth Carlson on 24 July 1999, and a student paper on Florence Carlson completed for a course at Oberlin in 2007. Also included is a letter and a brief work entitled "Chasing the One Minuet Quarter Mile" (24 November 1993) by former Oberlin College President Robert Fuller. Finally, Florence Carlson’s biography of Wu Yenching (son of Mark Wu, teacher at Ming Hsien) and a photograph of him date from 2005.
Series X. Files relating to The Oberlin Band: the Christian Mission in Shansi, 1882-1900, 1880-1940,1973, 1976, 2000; 0.9 l.f. (4 folders + 1 card file)
Consists of correspondence, pamphlets about China (including two in Chinese), photocopies of historical materials, and a card file of research notes. Also includes photographs of the Shanxi Province, Ming Hsien school, and members of the Oberlin Band. A copy of the manuscript is included in this series.
Series XI. Photographs and Albums, ca. 1937-49, 1953-56, 1985 (2.66 l.f.) (9 folders + 4 albums)
The photographs in this series document the Carlsons’ lives as Shansi representatives and workers in China from 1939 to the 1940s, and a 1985 trip to the former Shansi school locations. One album, compiled by Bobbie Carlson and entitled "Oberlin-in-Shansi: The War Years, 1937-1946," contains her original sketches as well as photographs. (This album was in the Shansi record group previous to 2014). Two other disbound albums date from 1957-58 and 1985. Also included are digital surrogates on two CD-ROMs that the Carlsons sent to the Shansi office in 2008 for the centennial celebration. These comprise surrogates of drawings from Bobbie's album of sketches and photographs, and of letters and other photographs dating from 1953-56.
Series XII. Moving Images, ca. 1940s, 2012 (0.6 l.f.)
Two 8mm color, silent films taken in the 1940s covering Bobbie Carlson in Oberlin at the Tank Home, and in Jintang, China with Ellsworth Carlson. The series includes copies of these films, on Digital Betacam and DVD made from the originals in 2011-12.