Interviews by Topic: Great Depression

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. 

C. Elizabeth (Kenyon) Goodale, class of 1939

In the first part of this interview, Elizabeth (Kenyon) Goodale discusses her Aunt Nettie’s experience as a member of Pembroke’s first entering class in 1895. Elizabeth goes on to discuss her time at Brown living with her Aunt Nettie and Uncle John on Keene Street. She notes that like her aunt, she became the first woman alumna trustee of the Corporation. Both she and her aunt were Presidents of the Alumnae Association. She discusses Bessie Rudd and the “bubbler” installed in the athletic field behind Meehan Auditorium in her honor.

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.

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.

Clarice Pitta Chapman, class of 1933

Clarice Pitta Chapman begins the interview by discussing her family background and the circumstances that led her to attend Pembroke College. In Part 1, she also addresses the effects of Great Depression on life at Brown, her ambitions to study medicine, pursuing a career as a woman, and drinking at Brown during Prohibition. 

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.

Eleanor Mary Addison, class of 1938

Eleanor Addison describes her time as a "day hop" at Pembroke College during the Great Depression. She comments on the makeup of the student body; relations between male and female students; dress; athletics; lectures she attended; and other student activities. Her interview also includes her impressions of the Providence community and recollections about Brown’s program in Applied Mathematics, which brought scholars from Germany during World War II.

Esther Amelia (Snell) Dick, class of 1934

Dick begins this interview by speaking of her childhood in Reading, PA; coming to Pembroke and struggling early on with Meniere’s syndrome.  She discusses campus rules & requirements; clothing standards; restrictions with alcohol and smoking; and access to the Brown campus.  She gives her opinions of several professors and discusses being deeply affected by the Great Depression which included cooking all her meals in the science labs. She speaks of being discriminated against as a woman by the University as a student and later as a woman doing research in the sciences.

Ethel Mary Humphrey Anderson, class of 1929

In Part 1 of her interview, Ethel Humphrey Anderson discusses the circumstances that led her to attend Brown University; academics and student relationships with the deans; her involvement in the Press Club and drama productions; coeducation; attitudes surrounding the name change to Pembroke College; and social interactions between men and women, including drinking during Prohibition.

Helen Hoff Peterson, class of 1923

Helen Hoff Peterson begins her interview by discussing her childhood education in New Jersey and her family background.  She explains that a high school superintendent convinced her to apply to Pembroke, making her the first person in her town to attend college.  She discusses her experiences in various academic departments and her extracurricular involvement, which centered around the Christian Association. After an unhappy stint teaching, she went on to work for the Young Women’s Christian Association.

Jean Ellen Miller, class of 1949

Jean Miller tells the story of her life in this interview, which was recorded on three occasions in 2014 and 2015. In Part 1, she describes being a young child raised during the Depression in the home of her Scottish grandparents, following the death of her mother. Jean discusses how she received a scholarship to Pembroke College before she had even applied to attend the school and she relates several elements of her life as a student, including the summers that she spent working in New Hampshire.

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.

Katherine Perkins, class of 1932

In this interview, Katherine Perkins talks about her family and her upbringing in East Providence and how she came to attend Pembroke College.  She discusses her travel as a day student to campus, the courses she took, extracurricular activities, the one black woman in her class, and the Great Depression. Katherine describes her first career as a social worker and her later work as a French teacher at East Providence High School. At the end of the interview she discusses her activities in retirement, including the Brown Street Series and the Pembroke Club.

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.

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.

Rose Roberta Traurig, class of 1928

Rose Traurig starts her interview by stating that she has a long story to tell. She describes her family, from Waterbury, Connecticut, and the high value they placed on education. At Brown, Rose's first dorm was Angell House, and she talks about entertaining guests there on weekends. She mentions that while she and her family never distinguished between Jews and Christians, Jewish girls were never invited to the parties held by the men. There were no sororities, but Rose had a tight group of friends: Joan Aschiem (Biel) and Eleanor Post.

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.

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.

Zelda Fisher Gourse, class of 1936

Zelda Fisher Gourse starts by describing her decision to enter Pembroke,  Dean Margaret Shove Morriss, and her favorite professors.  She and the interviewer discuss travel in Israel and Ms. Gourse’s daughter, author Leslie Gourse; annual student events like Sophomore Masque and Junior Prom; her older sister’s decision to return to college; being elected SGA President (“why not a Jewish girl?”); and other campus activities.  Gourse then describes her marriage and her career as a librarian at Bristol Community College.