Interviews by Decade: 1930s

In their interviews, alumnae of the 1930s recall elements of their experiences as both “city girls” and “dorm girls.” They discuss Pembroke College’s academic curriculum, mandatory physical education and chapel, the effects of the Great Depression, and student traditions. The women also share stories about their families, local communities, and careers.

Image: Athletics, 1936. Bessie Huntting Rudd became Pembroke College's Director of Athletics in 1930. A believer in competitive sports for women and in mandatory physical education, she introduced new activities to the curriculum, including tumbling, badminton, and lacrosse. Rudd was named Full Professor in 1952. She was succeeded by Arlene Gorton in 1961. Image source: Brun Mael.

Clarice d'Almeida Pitta, class of 1933

Clarice d'Almeida Pitts begins Part 1 of her interview by describing her family including her father’s job as a surgeon and her mother’s job as a homemaker. She explains that she ended up at Pembroke College because she flunked her exams for Radcliffe College.

Katherine May Hazard, class of 1933

In Part 1 of this interview, Katherine May Hazard begins by discussing daily life at Pembroke College. For her, this meant commuting to campus and becoming used to the regimented life at Pembroke. She explains some of the requirements, what it was like to date mathematicians, and her involvement on campus. Outside of class, there were a variety of activities and, oftentimes, formal dances. She remembers Dean Margaret Shove Morris telling them that Pembrokers were not preparing for a specific career, but for life.

Mary Manley, class of 1933

In this interview, Mary Manley discusses her family’s decision for her to attend Pembroke College despite entering at the beginning of the Great Depression. She mentions life as a City Girl and the assumed superiority of the girls who lived in the dorms and specifically recalls required courses and her decision to major in history. She reminisces about participating in the Elizabethans and being able to attend parties at her boyfriend’s fraternity as well as the dynamics of dating at the time. Manley generally remarks on the Sophomore Masque and crowning the May Queen.

Ruth Estella Sittler, class of 1933

In this interview, conducted over fifty years after her graduation, Ruth Estella Sittler begins by describing her childhood in Uniontown, Pennsylvania and the difficulty of her parents’ divorce in 1929. Sittler explains that her older brother graduated from Brown University in 1930 and that she was determined to follow in his footsteps. In 1929, she did just that, matriculating into Pembroke College the same year her family moved to Providence, Rhode Island.

Ruth Lilian Wade, class of 1933

In this interview, Ruth Lilian Wade begins by sharing her biographical and family background. She talks about her mother who was a supporter of female suffrage and determined that her daughter should attend Pembroke College. In Part 1, Wade also describes her experience at as a "city girl" from Central Falls and the attitudes of her classmates. She discusses the limited job opportunities for women during the Great Depression and taking courses at the Rhode Island College of Education.

Esther Amelia Dick, class of 1934

Esther Amelia Dick begins this interview by speaking of her childhood in Reading, PA and struggling with Meniere's Syndrome. She recalls her reasons for attending Pembroke College and discusses campus rules, requirements, clothing standards, alcohol and smoking restrictions, and access to the Brown campus. She gives her opinions of several professors and talks about being deeply affected by the Great Depression and, as a result, cooking all her meals in the science labs.

Ethel Colvin Nichols, class of 1934

Ethel Colvin Nichols begins her interview discussing her plans for the future and speaking of her wish to return to the workforce despite discrimination based on ageism. Also in Part 1, she reflects on classes at Pembroke College, her relationship with Dean Margaret Shove Morriss, training to become a dean herself, as well as her ideas about education.

Beatrice Wattman, class of 1935

Beatrice "Bea" Wattman was the daughter of a jeweler who immigrated from Moldavia in 1895  at age 18, and a mother who came from Austria as a young child. Raised in Providence along with two younger brothers, she attended Hope High School, where her classes in the "Classical" curriculum track were taught by several Brown alumnae. This interview touches on many subjects relating to her family, education, and work. 

Harva Zelda Fisher, class of 1936

In this interview, Harva Zelda Fisher explains her reasons for attending Pembroke College, particularly citing geographic proximity to her home and small student population. She recalls Dean Margaret Shove Morriss, Physical Education Director Bessie Rudd, and Professor George Downing, but says one of her favorite professors was Israel Kapstein. She gives a brief educational and personal background of her parents and moves on to vaguely remembering some Pembroke traditions and more clearly remembering Sophomore Masque.

Katherine Virginia Faulkner, class of 1936

In this interview, speaking nearly fifty years after graduation from Pembroke College, Katherine Virginia Faulkner begins Part 1 of her interview by describing the intellectual difficulty she encountered in her transition from public schools in Henderson, North Carolina. She explains choosing to attend Pembroke for the different culture it fostered compared to that in North Carolina, as well as how she decided to concentrate in psychology.

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