Interviews by Topic: City Girls

Alice Elizabeth O'Connor Chmielewski, class of 1928

Alice Chmielewski begins by discussing her life growing up in East Providence and assuming guardianship of her brothers and sisters after the early deaths of her parents. In Part 1, she also talks about changing careers to become a social worker, the state of public welfare services and her work for the Rhode Island Department of Children, her marriage and children, and earning a Master's degree later in life.

Ann Martha Chmielewski Anderson, class of 1959

The daughter of Alice O'Connor Chmielewski '28, Ann begins her own interview by relating childhood memories of accompanying her mother to Pembroke College reunions. She then describes her social and academic life as as a student herself, a "city girl" who later lived on campus.

Beatrice Wattman Miller, class of 1935

Beatrice "Bea" Wattman was the daughter of a jeweler who immigrated from Moldavia in 1895  at age 18, and a mother who came from Austria as a young child. Raised in Providence along with two younger brothers, she attended Hope High School, where her classes in the "Classical" curriculum track were taught by several Brown alumnae. This interview touches on many subjects relating to her family, education, and work. 

Caroline Flanders, class of 1926

“Every girl should go to college,” Flanders recalls telling her parents as a sophomore in high school. Flanders reflects on her arrival at Pembroke, taking many sociology classes on Brown’s campus, and working as a babysitter to help pay tuition. She reflects on the newfound freedom and the individualistic attitude of the “Roaring Twenties.” She mentions the Charleston, Prohibition and drinking hot liquor from a flask.

Charlene Marion (Underhill) Ingraham, class of 1959

“If you graduate from Pembroke, you can do anything you want to do.” These were the words of Dean Lewis that Charlene Ingraham warmly recalls during her interview. This is demonstrated as Ingraham expands on her career after Pembroke, becoming a teacher and active alumna of Brown University. Throughout the interview, Ingraham focuses on the cultural aspects of being a Pembroke student: being a "city girl;" staying overnight in West House, lectures at Chapel, hair and clothing fads of the late 50s, posture pictures, and the relationship between Brown and Pembroke students.

Charlotte (Roads) Ferguson, class of 1924

In this interview, Ferguson tells why she chose Pembroke over Wellesley; how following a woman she admired, she wanted to become a Boston insurance agent; and that she never felt she needed to be liberated.  She discusses the remnants of Victorianism; marching for suffrage before age ten, and always having had a female doctor. She recalls the rules and regulations of Pembroke; mandatory chapel and the speeches given by Deans Allinson and Morriss; and the Brown/Pembroke merger which she opposed.

Dorothy Allen Hill, class of 1930

In this interview, Dorothy Allen Hill starts by discussing her aunt, Mary Hill who graduated from Pembroke in 1904 and her father’s early insistence that she attend Pembroke.

Edna Frances (Anness) Graham, class of 1950

In Part 1, Edna discusses her family background; preparing for Pembroke at Classical High School; attending classes with "mature" veterans who had just returned from WWII; her dating experiences and traveling with the Glee Club. She speaks briefly about her work as a teacher and what she would change in hindsight. She says the worst experience in college was the death of her father, while the best thing about college was the social life and attending dances.

Elizabeth Pretzer Rall, class of 1944

At the start of this interview, Elizabeth Pretzer Rall describes what it was like to attend Pembroke College while living at home with her family in Providence. She explains her decision to major in Geology and remembers some of the geology field trips she took as an undergraduate. Later, she discusses earning her Ph.D., balancing her work life with the demands of three children, and moving to Texas to research the Midland Texas Basin. Towards the end of her interview, she transitions back to discussing Pembroke and contrasts her wartime college experience with Brown today.

Gloria Elizabeth DelPapa, class of 1946

In Part 1, Gloria begins by describing her relationship to her father, an immigrant cement business owner, her role as a “typical Italian daughter,” and how her father insisted she go to Pembroke.  When discussing her life at Pembroke, she speaks about her academic record, the discovery of her passion for English, after an initial focus on biology, her dedication to her studies and the many student activities in which she was involved.  The people who influenced her include Dean Morriss and Dean Lewis, English Professors Kapstein and Hunt, and Miss Rudd, the gym teacher. 

Helena "Pat" Hogan Shea, class of 1930

Helena “Pat” Hogan Shea was born in Ireland and was a student in 1928 when the Women’s College became known as Pembroke College. She worked her way through school as a commuting student, or “city girl,” who came to campus every day on the trolley. In her interview, Pat describes buildings on the Pembroke campus; her choice to major in Psychology; physical education; people she knew at Pembroke (Professor John Spaeth, who created Josiah Carberry, married her roommate); and elements of her family history.

Hilda Antoinette Calabro, class of 1945

Calabro begins the interview by telling why she chose to attend Pembroke; her experience as a "city girl;" World War II's effects on campus; respect and appreciation for Dean Morriss; co-ed foreign language classes; and modern dance classes. She speaks about the significance of May Day; dating between Brown and Pembroke students; her astronomy professor, teas, Chapel lectures, and BrownBrokers. She says that being at a women's college gave her the sense of being important as a woman.

Hope (Brown) Ballinger, class of 1944

In Part 1 of this interview, Hope Ballinger Brown discusses her upbringing and how she came to attend Pembroke to study nursing; popular social spots, including the Avon Theatre; her volunteer experience; interactions between Brown and Pembroke students; the abbreviated academic year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; the Copacabana Fire in Boston; the expectation of women to marry soon after college; her admiration of Dean Morriss and Bessie Rudd; her opinions on the Pembroke-Brown merger; and her experiences with classes and student groups.

Jeanette Dora Black, class of 1930

In this interview, Jeanette Black discusses her family; her education at Providence's Classical High School; reasons for attending college and for choosing Pembroke; her requirements and classes; her feelings about coeducation and the Pembroke administration, including Dean Morriss; working at the John Hay Library; and the effects of the stock market crash of 1929 and World War II on Pembroke.

Lillian Shoushan Berberian Klanian, class of 1957

This interview concentrates on Lillian's family life and her experiences as a commuter student. She explains that her parents expected her to live at home while she attended Pembroke, and she describes her days on campus  as “an outsider.” She reminisces about life-long friendships with other city girls (they had celebrated their 30th reunion together shortly before this interview).

Marcella Frances Fagan Hance, class of 1944

In Part 1 of this interview with Marcella Fagan Hance, she recounts her acceptance to Pembroke College in 1940 and her experience as a “day hop” or “city girl.” She describes the effects of World War II, including rations on food and gas, a social life that included few men, the Pratt & Whitney aircraft company’s attempts to recruit student workers, and the activities of the Sewing Club. Marcella relates stories about dating practices at Brown, juggling her studies with paid work, the four-year physical education requirement under professor Bessie Rudd, and posture pictures.

Mary Bernadette Banigan, class of 1931

Mary Banigan begins her interview by discussing her family background; her experience at Classical High School; and her reasons for attending Pembroke College. Throughout Part 1, she describes her favorite professors; her relationships with them; and postgraduate options for an English major at Pembroke. She ends the section by explaining her time at Chapel and her extracurricular interests, particularly her intense involvement with Varsity Debating.

Polly Adams Welts Kaufman, class of 1951

Polly Welts Kaufman begins this interview by recounting her family life  in Haverhill, Massachusetts before and after World War II. In Part 1, she also talks about the dating scene among freshmen at Pembroke; her work as a waitress; the participation of city girls in work and extracurricular activities; and her role as editor of the Pembroke Record.  

Rose Beatrice Miller Roitman, class of 1931

In this interview, Rose Miller Roitman discusses the reasons she attended college; her graduate studies and career in bacteriology; Deans Morriss and Mooar; Magel Wilder, her sole female professor at Brown; sex and dating; attending Pembroke as a "city girl"; life during the Depression; and her work with Planned Parenthood.

Ruth Ellen Bains Hartmann, class of 1943

Ruth Bains Hartmann discusses growing up in Providence, her family, and her educational background.  She proceeds to describe the academic atmosphere of Pembroke College; extracurricular activities, including Sock and Buskin and the Pembroke Dramatic Society; and Pembroke’s institutional individuality, which influenced her to oppose the 1971 merger of Brown and Pembroke.  Upon her wartime graduation, Ruth moved to Washington to work in the Office of Strategic Services, which recruited English majors to work on cracking codes.

Ruth Lilian Wade Cerjanec, class of 1933

This interview begins with biographical and family information about Ruth, whose mother was a supporter of female suffrage and determined that her daughter should attend Pembroke College. In Part 1, Ruth also describes her experience at as a "city girl" from Central Falls and the attitudes of her classmates.

Sarah Gertrude Mazick Saklad, class of 1928

In this interview, Sarah Mazick Saklad describes working in Providence as a teenager; her desire to attend medical school, against the wishes of her mother; and her memories of World War I, including learning to knit, Armistice Day celebrations, and the influenza epidemic of 1918. She also discusses the lack of financial aid for female students, effects of the Great Depression, and her pre-med coursework at Brown. She remembers Lillian Gilbreth’s visit to Chapel, an exchange she had with Dr. J. Walter Wilson, and her affection for Dean Morriss.

Teresa Elizabeth Gagnon Mellone, class of 1939

Teresa Gagnon Mellone begins this interview by discussing her early experiences at Pembroke, including freshman orientation week and the embarrasing experience of taking posture photographs. In Part 1, she also talks about the academic curriculum at Pembroke, her passion for languages, and the strict physical education requirement. 

Virginia Belle Macmillan Trescott, class of 1938

This interview begins with descriptions of Virginia's childhood and family in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She recalls her years at Pembroke College, in particular: her role on the Pembroke Record staff and as President of the Student Government Association; life as a commuter student; attending college during the Depression; interactions with Brown faculty members; and student activities, including formal dances, Ivy Day and Scut Week.