Interviews by Decade: 1920s

Interviews from women who attended Brown University in 1920s include discussions of the different social experiences of boarders and day students; the separation of the Women's and Men's Colleges; inspiring professors and courses; Dean Margaret Shove Morriss, who arrived in 1923;  dormitory life; social events; and the Women's College's name change to Pembroke College in 1928. The women also share stories about their families, local communities, and their lives before and after college.

Image: Ivy Chain, 1921.  Ivy Day was a June tradition introduced to the Women's College in 1897. Ivy Day programs included the ivy chain procession, invited speakers, singing, and the Ivy Night Dance, which was the last of the year. More about Ivy Day can be found in the Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Image source: University Archives Photograph Collection.

Caroline Flanders, class of 1926

In this interview, Caroline Flanders recalls telling her parents that "every girl should go to college." Flanders reflects on her arrival at Pembroke College, taking many sociology classes on Brown’s campus, and working as a babysitter to help pay tuition. She reflects on the newfound freedom and the individualistic attitude of the “Roaring Twenties.” She mentions the Charleston, Prohibition and drinking hot liquor from a flask.

Martha Alice Ingham Dickie, class of 1926 - First Interview

Martha Alice Ingham Dickie begins her 1985 interview discussing both her religious and academic backgrounds, elaborating on her interests in social work and international politics. These religious and intellectual values converged in 1939, when Czechoslovakia was being threatened by the Nazis and the Unitarian Churches there had been occupied. As part of the American Relief for Czechoslovakia program, Dickie and her husband traveled to Czechoslovakia to help the refugees.

Martha Alice Ingham Dickie, class of 1926 - Second Interview

In the first part of her 1987 interview, Martha Alice Ingham Dickie discusses her family background, her life at Brown, and her social work during her time at Northwestern. Also in tracks 1 and 2, Dickie reflects on meeting her husband, Waitstill Sharp, and starting a family and ministry together while taking classes at Radcliffe at Harvard.

Margaret Waterman, class of 1927

In this interview, Margaret Waterman discusses her decision to attend Pembroke College – known then as the Women’s College in Brown University – for one year, her transfer to Smith College, and her return to Pembroke for her senior year. She mentions medical care in the early twentieth century when she discusses her diagnoses of swollen glands and her father’s fatal battle with pneumonia. She speaks extensively of her time in athletics at Pembroke, primarily on the basketball and tennis teams.  She also recalls interacting with men on campus and discusses mid-1920s fashion.

Marjorie Whitcomb Sallie, class of 1927

In Part 1 of this interview, Marjorie Whitcomb Sallie explains why she decided to attend Pembroke College. She says that Dean Margaret Shove Morriss was the most influential faculty member on campus and she shares some memories of their interactions. Sallie goes on to describe how she decided to concentrate in biology and also details the commute she had to make from Foxboro, Massachusetts to Providence.

Mary Carpenter Emerson, class of 1927

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.

Alice Elizabeth O'Connor, class of 1928

In Part 1 of this interview, Alice Elizabeth O'Connor 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. 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. She also discusses marriage, children, and earning a Master's degree later in life.

Doris Madeline Hopkins, class of 1928

In Part 1 of this interview, Doris Madeline Hopkins begins by discussing her early education and family life in Rhode Island. She talks about the expectations for “nice girls” at Pembroke College in the 1920s, about the curriculum, and the classes she took. She talks about 1920s fashion, dancing and bootleg liquor, including clubs around the city where students could go to drink. Hopkins talks about reading for classes and getting books from the public library when they were unavailable elsewhere. She also mentions her friendship with Alice Elizabeth O'Connor.

Eleanor Francis Sarle, class of 1928

In this interview, conducted sixty years after her graduation, Eleanor Francis Sarle, class of 1928, explains that there was never any question that she would become a school teacher and receive her education at Brown University – known then as the Women’s College at Brown University – because her father, three uncles, and cousins had all graduated from Brown. She also explains that after taking courses in education and biology she found her niche in sociology.

Grace Amelia McAuslan, class of 1928

In this interview, Grace Amelia McAuslan begins by explaining why she decided to attend Pembroke College and what her first impressions were. She notes some of the courses she took as a sociology concentrator and momentarily remembers participating in the Pembroke orchestra. She shares brief memories of Dean Margaret Shove Morriss and Dean Anne Crosby Emery Allinson.

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