In this interview, Mary Carpenter 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.
At age 15, she started at Pembroke, stating that’s when she “discovered men.” She tells of campus social life and fraternity dances, the effects of Prohibition, and the deep influence of Dean Margaret Shove Morriss. She speaks of her misgivings with Brown’s open curriculum, her extensive teaching career—in which she taught in Panama, China, and the Philippines—and her experience as a “Navy wife.” She concludes her interview by expressing her great appreciation for the educational opportunities she had and her dismay that many others were not given the same chances at education