Interviews by Decade: 1950s

Interviews from alumnae of the 1950s include recollections of Nancy Duke Lewis, who served as Dean from 1950-1960; academic and extracurricular activities; and social life and dating at Brown.

Image: Elizabeth Mushinsky, President of Metcalf Hall, and Ann Richards, President of Miller Hall, 1957. Miller Hall was built in 1910 as the first on-campus women's dormitory. Metcalf was built directly across from Miller in 1919, and in 1947, both dorms were joined to Andrews Hall. For more about this history of student housing at Brown, see the Encyclopedia Brunoniana and oral histories tagged with the subject Dormitories. Image source: Brun Mael.

In part 1 of this interview, Alison discusses her childhood, her decision to attend Pembroke, and the Pembroke experience. In part 2 she discusses hazing at Pembroke, her summers while at college, working in New York City, her original interest in the State Department, and her time in Ghana. In part 3, Alison talks about her time in the Belgian Congo. In part 4, she discusses her deployment to British Guyana, gender discrimination, and her decision to volunteer for Vietnam. In part 5, she talks about her opposition to some of the tactics used in Vietnam.

Speaking 61 years after graduating from Pembroke College, Mary Jane Mikuriya, class of 1956, shares an exceptionally rich account of her experience as an American student and woman of Japanese and Czechoslovakian descent in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

Edna Frances Graham, class of 1950

In Part 1 of this interview, Edna Frances graham discusses her family background and then elaborated on preparing for Pembroke at Classical High School, attending classes with "mature" veterans who had just returned from WWII, her dating experiences, and traveling with the Glee Club. She speaks briefly about her work as a teacher and what she would change in hindsight. She says the worst experience in college was the death of her father, while the best thing about college was the social life and attending dances.

Polly Adams Welts, class of 1951

Polly Adams Welts begins this interview by recounting her family life  in Haverhill, Massachusetts before and after World War II. In Part 1, she also talks about dating among freshmen at Pembroke College, her work as a waitress, the participation of city girls – female day students who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus in work and extracurricular activities, and her role as editor of the school newspaper, The Pembroke Record.  

Beverly Anne Calderwood, class of 1952

Beverly Anne Calderwood begins this interview by explaining her parents’ self-made careers—her father’s opening of an iron foundry and her mother’s self-education. Calderwood describes her two-year experience as a Pembroke College city girl– a female day student who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus, Pembroke’s regulations and “gracious living” practices, and organizing a dormitory for commuting students.

Elizabeth Anne Gibbons, class of 1952

Elizabeth Anne Gibbons begins Part 1 of her interview by noting that she is a fourth generation rancher’s daughter with a grandmother and two great aunts who held masters degrees. She explains the difficulty she had assimilating to Pembroke College after growing up in Texas and says that Dean Nancy Duke Lewis was her best friend all through college.

Arlene Elizabeth Gorton, class of 1952 - First Interview

This interview summarizes the career of Arlene Gorton with Pembroke College and Brown University’s Athletics Departments. Gorton graduated from Pembroke College in the class of 1952, and then served as Pembroke College Director of Physical Education and Athletics, 1961–1971, and finally as the Brown University Assistant Athletic Director from 1971–1998.

Alison Palmer, class of 1953

In part 1 of this interview, Alison Palmer discusses her childhood, her decision to attend Pembroke College, and the Pembroke experience.

In part 2 she discusses hazing at Pembroke, her summers while at college, working in New York City, her original interest in the State Department, and her time in Ghana.

In part 3, Palmer talks about her time in the Belgian Congo.

In part 4, she discusses her deployment to British Guyana, gender discrimination, and her decision to volunteer for Vietnam.

Lois Black, class of 1953

In Part 1 of this interview, Lois Black begins by explaining what it felt like to attend Pembroke College with a working class background. She describes her first experiences of Pembroke, including living in East House, and the differences between private and public high school students. Black goes on to discuss racism at Pembroke, the exclusion of women from the Brown Marching Band and Brown Sailing Association, and her participation in student movements for desegregation and reformation of gracious living regulations.

Rita R. Schorr, class of 1953

Rita R. Schorr begins this interview by recounting her childhood in Poland, the outbreak of World War II, and her and her family’s placement in Auschwitz. She explains the trauma of this experience, as well as her determination to survive.  Schorr transitions to discuss her education in Munich after she was liberated, and her later move to the United States. She describes the gratitude she feels toward the Pembrokers who fundraised on her behalf, as well as the support she received from friends, professors, and members of the Brown University and Providence Jewish community.

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