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.

Helen Elizabeth Butts, class of 1928

In this interview, Helen Elizabeth Butts starts by discussing life at Pembroke College, the academic arena, Silver Bay (a Christian summer conference), higher-level science classes, post-graduate life, and the career/family dichotomy. She goes on to talk about her experience with Dean Margaret Shove Morriss, marriage ideals, and transition to computer usage. Butts finishes the interview by sharing her opinions on graduate school, housewives, and feminism.

Rose Roberta Traurig, class of 1928

In Part 1 of this interview, Rose Roberta Traurig describes her family, from Waterbury, Connecticut, and the high value they placed on education. At Pembroke College, Rose's first dorm was Angell House, and she talks about entertaining guests there on weekends. She mentions that while she and her family never distinguished between Jews and Christians, Jewish girls were never invited to the parties held by the men. There were no sororities, but Traurig had a tight group of friends including Joan Aschiem Biel and Eleanor Lenore Post.

Sarah Gertrude Mazick, class of 1928

In this interview, Sarah Gertrude Mazick describes working in Providence as a teenager and her desire to attend medical school against the wishes of her mother. She shares her memories of World War I, including learning to knit, Armistice Day celebrations, and the influenza epidemic of 1918. Mazick also discusses the lack of financial aid for female students, effects of the Great Depression, and her pre-med coursework at Brown University.

Ethel Mary Humphrey, class of 1929

In Part 1 of her interview, Ethel Mary Humphrey discusses the circumstances that led her to attend Pembroke College. She talks about academics and student relationships with the deans, her involvement in the Press Club and drama productions, and coeducation. She also recalls attitudes surrounding the name change to Pembroke College, and social interactions between men and women, including drinking during Prohibition.

Margery Chittenden Leonard, class of 1929

Margery Chittenden Leonard’s 1982 interview reflects her tireless passion for the Equal Rights Amendment. While she discusses her classes at Brown and her dormitories, the majority of her oral history is dedicated to discussing the fierce discrimination women faced because of their gender, and the necessity of the Equal Rights Amendment as the only way to reverse all of the gender discrimination encoded in the law.

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