Interviews by Decade: 1940s

Interviews from women who attended Brown in the 1940s describe student life during World War II, and include several stories about balancing coursework with paid employment.

Image: War Activities, 1940s. World War II introduced new courses and apprenticeships to the women of Pembroke College. Students also experienced accelerated curricula, war bond drives, and the merged publication of the Brown and Pembroke newspapers as the Brown Herald-Record. Image source: University Archives Photograph Collection

Anna C. Renzi, class of 1947

In her interview, Anna C.

Elsie B. Anderson, class of 1947

In this interview, Elsie B. Anderson discusses her parents’ Swedish origins, their sixth grade-level educations, and their paths to learning English. She goes on to recall having three career options – nurse, teacher, or secretary – and choosing to become a nurse.

Jane E. Walsh, class of 1947

Jane E. Walsh begins Part 1 of her interview by summarizing her background including her mother’s career as Director of Standards and Planning for the Department of Employment Security in Rhode Island, and her father’s real estate business. She explains that she always knew she would go to college and Pembroke College’s close geographic proximity made it a good fit. Walsh talks about being a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus, and the camaraderie commuter students developed.

Joyce Wetherald, class of 1947

In Part 1 of this interview, Joyce Wetherald begins by discussing the experiences she had as a Pembroke student that made her want to become an active alumna, especially the gratitude she felt at having had the opportunity to go to college with the Rhode Island Regional Scholarship. She discusses the experience of being at Pembroke during World War II, speaking on the minimizing effect the war had on both gender barriers and academic concerns. Wetherald also explains the function of the Brown Corporation and its committees.

Constance Andrews, class of 1948

Constance Andrews begins her interview by describing her father’s Harvard Law education and her mother’s boarding school education. She explains that her father and brother both graduated from Brown University, and that her mother would keep her and her brother out of school to watch commencement in May. She remarks that it was assumed that she would be accepted to Pembroke College.

Elizabeth Hortense Leduc, class of 1948

In this interview, Elizabeth Hortense Leduc recounts her educational background from undergraduate studies in biology at the University of Vermont, to obtaining her master’s degree from Wellesley College, getting her Ph.D. at Brown University, and completing a fellowship at Brown through the National Institute of Health. She frequently mentions the assistance she received during her Ph.D. program from J. Walter Wilson. She mentions her position as an anatomy professor at Harvard Medical School and the struggle for scientists to receive tenured positions.

Jean Ellen Miller, class of 1949

Jean Ellen Miller tells the story of her life in this interview, which was recorded on three occasions in 2014 and 2015.

Elizabeth Branch Jackson, class of 1945

In Part 1 of this interview, Elizabeth Branch Jackson begins by talking about her high-achieving family. Educated at Howard Dental School, her father was one of only two Black dentists in Providence at that time. He was also active in the NAACP and a variety of community programs, pushing the same expectations he had for himself onto his daughter. Jackson discusses the inevitability of pursuing a Ph.D., her lack of choice in choosing Pembroke, and being a highly visible token among her classmates.

Lorraine Estelle Adler, class of 1945

In this interview, Lorraine Estelle Adler, Brown University class of 1945, discusses her experience as a student during the war years and also touches upon the events of September 11, 2001, and the COVID-19 global pandemic.

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