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.
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.
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 Access :
Collection is open to the public.
Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.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.
Collection is organized into the following series: Series I. Correspondence; Series II. Miscellaneous material related to Brazil; Series III. Photographs.
Detailed Description of the Collection