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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.