History of Brown Women

An important undertaking of the Pembroke Center Associates is the preservation and celebration of the history of Brown women. In addition to our work to develop the Pembroke Center Archives, we are pleased to share other efforts related to this goal.

Oral History Digitization Project

With the help of the Brown University Library, the Pembroke Center Associates are digitizing oral history recordings of Brown women and showcasing them on a website that provides contextual information, photographs, and links to other Brown history resources. Please visit the Brown Women Speak website to listen to digitized oral histories.

For nearly three decades, the Associates have been recording oral histories of Brown women, in both individual and group formats. There are over 100 recordings in the collection. First recorded on audiocassette tapes, the more recent recordings, approximately ten percent, were videotaped and all are stored in the Brown University Archives. Membership donations are helping to pay for the project. Thank you!


Pembroke Record Digital Archives

The digital archives of the Pembroke Record are now online!

From 1922 to 1970, the Pembroke Record documented and commented upon life at Pembroke College in Brown University. Although the Pembroke Record ceased publishing decades ago, it has remained a valuable archival resource and an irreplaceable part of the history of women at Brown University. Unfortunately, the physical, bound copies of the Pembroke Record are deteriorating with age and extensive use. The Pembroke Center Associates undertook this effort, in partnership with the Brown University Library, to digitize the entire run of the Pembroke Record. We are pleased to make it digitally accessible to scholars and alumnae/i and thank the support of our members for making this project possible.


Online Exhibits

Learn more about the history of Brown women through special online exhibits. The exhibits highlight the rich history of Brown alumnae and the women of Rhode Island.

The physical items of the Christine Dunlap Farnham Archives may be accessed at the Brown University Library.


The Search for Equity

A book about the history of women's education at Brown was published as part of the celebration of 100 years of women at Brown.

Copies of this book are available through the Pembroke Center or by writing:

Alumni Relations Office
Box 1859
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912-1958

Following is an excerpt from The Search for Equity: Women at Brown University, 1891-1991, edited by Polly Welts Kaufman '51:

During the early 1930s, as financial strains of the Depression mounted, the Brown and Pembroke administrations permitted more and more women to take courses with men on the Brown campus, rather than organize additional sections for women on the Pembroke campus.

This change, although presumed at the time to have been a financial decision resulting from an increasing shortage of funds, nonetheless came at a point when educators were no longer insisting that women receive the same training as men, when it was increasingly understood that women students were not in competition with male students because they were not preparing themselves for the same careers as men. Simultaneously as an equal education for women was being defined in terms of a different education, the fears that had previously led to segregating the sexes lessened, and separation was cast aside with little feeling of regret
(Search for Equity, p. 93).


Pembroke Center publications on the history of Brown women

Notes on Pembroke Center History: 1981-2011, by Elizabeth Weed
Women's Archives and Women's History, by Joan Wallach Scott
Discovering Women's History through the Christine Dunlap Farnham Archives
The Rhode Island Society for the Collegiate Education of Women and the History of the Funding of Pembroke Hall
Original program from the Dedication of Pembroke Hall in 1897
A Brief History of Women at Brown University
Timeline of Women's Sports at Brown University