Lillian S. Berberian, class of 1957

Lillian S. Berberian, class of 1957

Lillian S. Berberian was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1935 to Agavne and Misak Berberian, Armenian natives who were proprietors of several small neighborhood businesses, including a grocery store and theatre. Berberian's mother had immigrated with her parents; her father’s died in a massacre in Turkey. She taught school after graduating from Pembroke College in 1957 with an A.B. in sociology. She met her husband, Peter Klanian, a University of Rhode Island graduate and insurance underwriter, through the Armenian community and church.

This interview concentrates on Lillian S. Berberian's family life and her experiences as a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke College but did not live on campus, and she reminisces about life-long friendships with other city girls. 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.” 

With interviewer, Michael Gates '91, Berberian discusses Brown University's fraternities and the changes that have taken place to the campus which leads to a conversation about her Armenian parents, their history, language, and behavioral expectations, and similarly about the interviewer's Polish family. 

Berberian participated in International Club and volunteered at Nickerson House. She recounts her early teaching career, meeting her husband through the Armenian community, choosing to stay at home with her children, and returning to teaching in 1979 as a substitute. She concludes the interview by addressing the rigor of hercollege experience, minority students, and her daughter’s impression of Brown as she awaited acceptance.

Part 1
Recorded on May 12, 1988

Providence, Rhode Island

Interviewed by Michael Gates