Mary Hill Swope, class of 1955

Mary Hill Swope, class of 1955

Mary Hill Swope grew up in Wayne, Pennsylvania, with three sisters and a brother. Her father was an electrical engineer, and her mother was a housewife. When she was ten years old, her father got a job at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the family moved to Newton, Massachusetts. Swope attended a mix of public and private schools for her primary education, graduating from the Cambridge School in Weston, Massachusetts. She enrolled in the Women’s College at the University of North Carolina in 1951. After two years there, she transferred to Pembroke College, majoring in art.

Mary Hill Swope begins her interview discussing her childhood and family background, especially her family’s emphasis on education. She explains her decision to transfer to Pembroke College from the Women’s College at the University of North Carolina for her junior and senior year of college, making her decision largely due to Brown’s art program. Swope also speaks on her mother’s expectation that she would marry, while she preferred to pursue academic and professional interests. An art major, Swope reflects on her courses and teachers at Pembroke and the Rhode Island School of Design. She also examines the relationship between Brown and Pembroke students, expressing feelings of separation and inferiority in terms of gender divisions. Swope also discusses her career after Pembroke, moving to California, and teaching at an all-girls school. She concludes the interview with appreciation for both her academic and cultural education at Pembroke.


One Part
Recorded on Jan 14, 1986

San Francisco, California

Interviewed by Elizabeth Bernstein