Historical Documents – 1878 Darwin Letter

Dec. 9, 1878, Oberlin College Archives

Pres Fairchild
Dear Sir,

Having heard rumors of the misconduct of my son William, I wrote to him and to Mrs. Johnson for all the facts…As Willie tells me he was summoned before you, will you give me an account of what he has done.

I hope it is no worse than his own confession makes it. Though I am sure he only meant a little harmless fun not considering how a wicked world would construe it. He always had a “penchant” for woman’s attire—his favorite amusement as a little boy was to dress up in girls clothes and I not wishing him to look on woman as an inferior never taught him that her dress was any disgrace and let him play the girl as much as he liked. Of course, this is no excuse for his conduct now. I only meant it to show that he meant no further harm than simply the dress which under the circumstances was wrong. Willie was always a good boy at home. But he is sensitive and feels much discouraged. I have just received a letter in which he says unless his health is better he cannot study I have delayed his entering on another term until I heard from Mrs. Johnston.

No child of mine must bring disgrace on Oberlin. But I think you may trust Willie in the future. It has been suggested that Prof. Morgans is not a good place for him. Will you recommend a good one[? I] would like to have him under Christian influences.

Please give me the worst. Do not spare a mother’s feelings if you think it not best for Willie to continue at Oberlin. I will call him home. Have advise[d] him to go on if his health permits.

Yours respectfully,
M.A.P. Darwin