Interviews by Topic: Social Life

Emerson tells of her family’s tradition of attending Brown University, which included her mother, her maternal uncles and her maternal grandfather. Like her mother, Emerson became a science teacher, teaching biology, geometry, general science, chemistry and physics. She speaks of her early life: losing her father at age 11 while living in Louisiana, then moving with her mother to Rhode Island to be close to her mother’s family.

Anonymous, class of 1920

The narrator of this interview describes the Brown University campus; student activities; relations between male and female students and the women's and men's colleges; and Dean Lida Shaw King.

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.

Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, class of 1968

This oral history features three members of the class of ‘68: Marcia Lloyd, an artist and professor of Painting at the Massachusetts College of Art; Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, an information management consultant; and Sandi Richards, a professor of African American Studies and Theatre at Northwestern University. Marcia Lloyd begins the interview discussing her work as an artist; her involvement with the Brown Corporation; her Philadelphia background; coming to Pembroke; and the school’s racial climate and the corresponding social life.

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. 

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.

Elizabeth Young (Jeffers) Winsor, class of 1924

Elizabeth Young Winsor begins the interview by discussing her family and the history of careers in education within her family. In Part 1, she talks about her courses at Brown; her disapproval of the Pembroke-Brown merger; extra-curricular activities including being class president, a member of the glee club, and a member of the pyramid squad; and other women’s colleges of the time.

Elsie Barbara Anderson Lewis, class of 1947

Elsie Anderson Lewis discusses her family's Swedish origins as well as their American experiences. She describes her nursing education and training, including her scholarship, courses at Pembroke, Brown professors, and her Biology instructor Virginia Granger. Mrs. Lewis also discusses the differences between Brown men and Pembroke women, the advantages of attending a women's college, social life and campus activities, and Pembroke traditions. She describes her dismay about he Pembroke-Brown merger and relates her experiences as a working mother.

Esther Amelia (Snell) Dick, class of 1934

Esther grew up in the small town of Reading, Pennsylvania, where she went to an all-girls high school. She graduated from Pembroke College in 1934 with a degree in botany, and worked atDick begins by speaking of her childhood in Reading, PA; coming to Pembroke and struggling early on with Meniere’s syndrome; campus rules & requirements; clothing standards and restrictions with alcohol and smoking; access to the Brown campus; she gives her opinions of several professors. She discusses being deeply affected by the Great Depression and cooking all her meals in the science labs.

Gladys Paine Johnson, class of 1913

Gladys Paine Johnson begins her interview by describing her family and how she came to Brown in 1909, the first member to attend college. She considers herself lucky to have lived in the mansion on Benefit Street, where she met Sarah Doyle and made lifelong friends. Describing her classes and professors, Gladys remembers public speaking with Professor Thomas Crosby and Deans Lida Shaw King and Margaret Shove Morriss. She majored in math and notes that she did not receive any career guidance while in school.

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.

Joan Caryll Hoost McMaster, class of 1960

In this interview recorded the week of her 55th reunion, Joan McMaster describes her experiences at Pembroke College and her work as an advocate for women's causes. She shares stories about Freshman Week and her participation in the PDQs (Pembroke Double Quartet); teaching fourth grade in Greensboro, North Carolina after graduation; the Brown Alumnae Club of Kent County, RI; and several different efforts share memories of Pembroke College with younger students.

Lillian Dorothy Beals, class of 1918

In this dual interview, Presel and Beals speak extensively about their classes at Pembroke, the different professors they had.  They discuss social life at the college especially the four dances held each year and the Pembroke traditions of Sophomore Masques, May Day, and Ivy Day.   In section one, they describe the dynamic between Pembroke and Brown; that as underclassmen they were not allowed to walk across the Brown campus at any time.

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.

Marjorie Phillips Wood Burroughs, class of 1911

Marjorie Burroughs entered Pembroke College in 1907. In Part 1 of this interview, she remembers being disciplined as a freshman for the fun she had with her friends; Lida Shaw King, Dean of the Women's College; expectations for dress and behavior at Pembroke; the language courses she took at Pembroke and at Brown; becoming a librarian at Harvard; basketball, bowling, dances, sororities, and other extracurricular activities; and being a tomboy. 

Penelope "Penny" Anne Baskerville, class of 1968

Penelope “Penny” Baskerville begins this interview by recounting her family life and early education in New Jersey. In Part 1, she discusses the experience of being a racial minority at Pembroke (Penny was one of six African-American women in her class) as well as the general novelty of the college social experience, stressing the strength of the friendships she developed. Penny recounts her extracurricular involvement, the founding of the Afro-American Society, and the unique nature of college in the 1960s.

Rose Presel, class of 1918

In this dual interview, Presel and Beals speak extensively about their classes at Pembroke, the different professors they had.  They discuss social life at the college especially the four dances held each year and the Pembroke traditions of Sophomore Masques, May Day, and Ivy Day.   In section one, they describe the dynamic between Pembroke and Brown; that as underclassmen they were not allowed to walk across the Brown campus at any time.

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.

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.