Interviews by Topic: Family

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.

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

50th Reunion, class of 1956

This interview with members of the Pembroke College class of 1956, highlights the under graduate experiences of Gretchen Gross, Jane Elton Hamlett, Jennifer Davis Morgan, Marjorie Jane Jenckes, Geneva Carol Whitney, Margaret Ann Devoe, and Barbara Ann Perrino, at their 50th reunion.

50th Reunion, class of 1958

This interview with members of the Pembroke College class of 1958, highlights the experiences of Barbara Alice Fontaine, Maraya McCully Goff, Jane Marie Loveless, Carol May Jadick, Rayanne Lucille Walter, Beverly C. Hart, Martha Joukowsky, and Joyce P. Foster, at their 50th reunion.

Ann Martha Chmielewski, class of 1959

The daughter of Alice Elizabeth O'Connor '28, Chmielewski begins her interview by relating childhood memories of accompanying her mother to Pembroke College reunions. She then describes her social and academic life as as a student herself, a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus, who later lived on campus.

Anna Peña Hass, class of 1917

In the first part of the interview, Anna Peña Hass discusses early life on her family’s farm and the decision to attend Pembroke despite wanting to get married and become a nurse. Hass describes the courses she took in her two years at Pembroke and some of the formative people she met during that time. In the second part of the interview, Hass elucidates the Brown dress code and describes political events, life in Cuba, and her arrest. 

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. 

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.

Carol Ann Markovitz, class of 1962

In this interview, Carol Ann Markovitz begins by describing her involvement at Pembroke outside the classroom, at Brown Youth Guidance—an outreach organization, at the Pendleton-Bradley Hospital, and at the Pembroke College school newspaper, the Pembroke Record. She then tells of her dissatisfaction with the social life on campus, her very close group of friends and their importance to her, the norms of dating, and her decision to study abroad junior year at the Sorbonne, as one of only three women to go abroad.

Carol R. Dannenberg, class of 1966

In this interview, Carol R. Dannenberg begins by explaining her decision to attend Pembroke College. She discusses dating life, and student/professor relationships, as well as her involvement with student government, tension over curfews, the lack of role models on campus, and being involved in the Peace Corps during summer break.

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.

Cecile Lena Kantrowitz Israel, class of 1930

Cecile Lena Kantrowitz Israel begins this interview by explaining her Russian heritage and Jewish upbringing, her father's career as a Hebrew teacher and cantor, and tracing her roots to Baal Shem Tov. She discusses her education at Classical High School, her mother’s liberated beliefs, and why she chose to attend Pembroke College. Regarding her education at Pembroke, Israel describes her first days, joining Phi Beta Kappa, and being a student of languages.

Clara Elizabeth Goodale, class of 1939

Clara Elizabeth Goodale ‘39 is the niece of Nettie Goodale Murdock who was a member of Pembroke College’s first class in 1895. This interview captures the memories Murdock shared with her niece of her time at Pembroke.

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.

Constance Worthington, class of 1968

In this interview, Constance Worthington begins by talking about her family’s involvement in Brown University, and her eventual decision to transfer to Pembroke College. She then discusses her challenging time at Brown being a student, single mother, and a widow, and what it was like raising a son later diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Cynthia Burdick, class of 1965

Cynthia Burdick grew up on a farm in Wilmington, Delaware and attended Westover boarding school in Connecticut. After graduation, she went to Bryn Mawr College for a year and half, during which she fell in love and got married. She then transferred to Pembroke College to be closer to her husband, who was working at a law firm in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cynthia Lee Jenner, class of 1961

In Part 1 of this interview, Cynthia Lee Jenner begins by describing her family background. She talks about the contemporary stigma against a middle class wife with a career and the effect of this on her mother and herself. From this context, she attended an all-girls boarding school and Pembroke College, both of which sought (though failed) to prepare her for “gracious living.” She goes on to discuss deciding to attend Pembroke, her tour guide, living at 87 Prospect Street (now Machado House), and her advanced discussion-based coursework.

Deborah J. Greenberg, class of 1979

Deborah J. Greenberg begins her interview by sharing some family background information including her childhood in Chicago, her mother’s position as a therapist, and the world travels that were funded by her father’s position as a professor at the University of Illinois.

Diane Straker, Staff

In this oral history captured over the course of four interviews, Diane Straker, the Pembroke Center’s administrative assistant, details her experiences living in various states along the eastern seaboard and in Saint Thomas, her daughter’s struggle with Crescentic Glomerulonephriris, and working at Brown University.

Diane Eileen Scola, class of 1959

Diane Eileen Scola’s oral history is an example of autonomy and feminist conviction despite gender discrimination. She begins her interview discussing her Italian-American family background, applying to college, academics at Pembroke, and commuting to school.

Donna Zaccaro, Class of 1983

In this interview, Donna Zaccaro, Brown University class of 1983, discusses her life on the campaign trail with her mother, Geraldine Ferraro – the first woman Vice Presidential nominee on a major party ticket; her path to becoming a documentarian; and the impeachment trial of United States President Donald Trump.

Dorothy Ann Haus, class of 1964

Dorothy Ann Haus begins this interview by talking about her life before Pembroke College, growing up as a “Pollyanna” in Brattleboro, Vermont. Haus discusses many different aspects of life as a Pembroker including the rules and regulations, the gym requirement, dorm life, dating, freshman orientation, formal dinners and demitasse, and playing varsity sports. Haus recalls celebrations such as Father-Daughter Weekend, May Day, and Campus Dance.

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.

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 Harvard 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.

Elizabeth J. Pretzer, class of 1944

At the start of this interview, Elizabeth J. Pretzer describes what it was like to attend Pembroke College while living at home with her family in Providence. She explains her decision to major in Geology and remembers some of the geology field trips she took as an undergraduate. Later, she discusses earning her Ph.D., balancing her work life with the demands of three children, and moving to Texas to research the Midland Texas Basin. Towards the end of her interview, she transitions back to discussing Pembroke and contrasts her wartime college experience with Brown University today.

Elizabeth Lee Young, class of 1924

Speaking more than sixty years after graduation, Elizabeth Lee Young begins her interview by noting her parent’s educational and career backgrounds as well as her own marriage history and family connection to Brown University.

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.

Ferelene Bailey, class of 1974

Ferelene "Nan" Bailey begins by discussing her childhood, the benefits of living overseas during her childhood, her experience applying to Brown University, and her expectations of her experience. She spends a significant amount of time discussing the various and bountiful activist groups she participated in, and more broadly, social turmoil during the seventies surrounding issues such as the Vietnam War and birth control.

Galia Siegel, class of 1989

In Part 1 of her interview, Galia Siegel speaks about her work with Project Birth – an advocacy, service, and educational program for pregnant and parenting teens in South Providence, and founding its corollary, Peer Sister, which matched women in Project Birth with women at Brown who would tutor them.

In Part 2, Siegel discusses her belief that the general atmosphere at Brown turned her into an activist. She then speaks of her family life, cultural expectations, and going off to college.

Gloria E. Del Papa, class of 1946

In Part 1 of this interview, Gloria E. Del Papa begins by describing her relationship to her father, an immigrant cement business owner, her role as a “typical Italian daughter,” and how her father insisted she go to Pembroke College.  When discussing her life at Pembroke, she speaks about her academic record, the discovery of her passion for English after an initial focus on biology, her dedication to her studies and the many student activities in which she was involved.

Helen Anderson Hoff, class of 1923

Helen Anderson Hoff begins her interview by discussing her childhood education in New Jersey and her family background. She explains that a high school superintendent convinced her to apply to Pembroke, making her the first person in her town to attend college. She discusses her experiences in various academic departments and her extracurricular involvement, which centered around the Christian Association. After an unhappy stint teaching, she went on to work for the Young Women’s Christian Association.

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.

Hilda Antoinette Calabro, class of 1945

In this interview, Hilda Antoinette Calabro begins by sharing some family background and explaining her reasons for attending Pembroke College. She recalls being supported by her family and having the freedom to choose what she wanted to do with her college education. She describes the difficult of being a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus, particularly during World War II.

Hope Ballinger, class of 1944

Hope Ballinger begins her interview by explaining that her aunt’s graduation from Pembroke College in 1902, and her desire to become a nurse, influenced her decision to also attend Pembroke. She says that as a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus, she missed out on many student activities, and notes that the Avon Theatre and the Wayland Drug Store were the most popular gathering spots. She fondly recalls Magel Wilder’s anatomy class as the most interesting class at Pembroke.

Isabel Ross Abbott, class of 1922

Isabel Ross Abbot begins this interview by describing her parents’ lives in Nova Scotia before she was born. In Part 1, she discusses the family’s move to Providence, Rhode Island and her childhood there, including attending elementary school and happy memories of Christmas and sledding down the hills of Providence.

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.

Jeree Palmer-Bechkham, class of 1983

In this interview, Jeree Palmer-Beckham begins by discussing her time in Providence, where she lived with her first husband, and explaining her completion of a Brown University degree in theatre arts through the Resumed Education Program (RUE).  Palmer explains how attending Brown impacted her life in theatre, particularly the production “Shades of Brown,” which led her back to the New York theatre scene. She discusses various productions she has worked on in New York.  

Joyce Loretta Richardson, class of 1963

Joyce Loretta Richardson begins her interview by discussing the experiences and people that led her to apply to and attend Pembroke College. She cites experiences such as going to boarding school, having a high achieving family, rejection from Radcliffe, and her fear of swimming. She contrasts her experience at boarding school with her arrival to Pembroke, discussing the stereotypical “Penny Pembrokers,” encountering racism for the first time, and being shocked into silence. She explains the extent to which gender and racial issues were not identified and the suppression she felt.

Judith Vivienne Korey, class of 1946

Judith Vivienne Korey begins Part 1 of her interview by describing her family background, her and her father’s negative attitude toward her mother’s advertising job, and Providence during her early years. She goes on to explain her reasons for deciding to attend Pembroke College and the career aspirations she went in with. Korey remembers receiving mixed messages about women’s roles in society but says she did not feel obligated to get married.

Justine Tyrrell, class of 1943

In Part 1, speaking fifty five years after her graduation, Justine Tyrrell begins her interview by noting that she is one of seventeen family members to graduate from Brown University. She states that she always knew she would attend Pembroke College and recalls asking Dean Margaret Shove Morriss for a scholarship. She briefly discusses the difficult transition from Pawtucket High School to Pembroke and mentions that her first job after graduation was at Army Security Agency as a crypt analyst.

Lillian S. Berberian, class of 1957

This interview concentrates on Lillian S. Berberian's family life and her experiences as a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke College but did not live on campus, and she reminisces about life-long friendships with other city girls. She explains that her parents expected her to live at home while she attended Pembroke, and she describes her days on campus  as “an outsider.” 

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.

Lucile K. Wawzonek, class of 1972

In Part 1 of this interview, Lucile K. Wawzonek discusses changing attitudes towards formal gender divisions on campus during the Pembroke-Brown merger. She begins by reflecting on the regulations at Brown in the late 1960s, including the male caller system and curfews. She speaks on the housing lottery and the advent of coed dorms, which she feels led to a looser social structure, especially in terms of dating.

Maggie M. Wenig, class of 1978 - First Interview

In Part 1 of this interview, Maggie M. Wenig begins by sharing some family information including her parents’ careers as lawyers and her own high school education in Westport, Connecticut. Wenig explains that she knew she wanted to pursue Judaic Studies, despite her family’s lack of religiosity, and decided that Brown University was the best place to do that.

Maggie M. Wenig, class of 1978 - Second Interview

In her second interview, conducted in 2013, Maggie M. Wenig begins by discussing her admission to Brown University, where she was involved with the Brown University Women's Minyan. She discusses the rigor of the Religious Studies Department, the strength of its professors and their mentorship, specifically Professor Jacob Neusner, and her subsequent inspiration to go to the rabbinate at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Marcella F. Fagan, class of 1944

In Part 1 of this interview, Marcella F. Fagan recounts her acceptance to Pembroke College in 1940 and her experience as a “day hop” or “city girl.” She describes the effects of World War II, including rations on food and gas, a social life that included few men, the Pratt & Whitney aircraft company’s attempts to recruit student workers, and the activities of the Sewing Club. Fagan relates stories about dating practices at Brown, juggling her studies with paid work, the four-year physical education requirement under professor Bessie Rudd, and posture pictures.

Margaret Mary Porter, class of 1939

Margaret "Peg" Mary Porter begins Part 1 of her 1988 interview discussing her family background and her motivation for both going to college and choosing Pembroke College. She reflects on what is was like to attend college during the Depression years, Franklin Delano Roosevelt becoming President of the United States, and the beginnings of WWII. She considers her freshman year, required courses, and her classes, telling vivid stories of professors. Porter speaks on the then archaic social and academic rules for Pembroke students, and her extracurricular activities on campus.

Margot Landman, class of 1978

In Part 1 of this interview, Margot Landman discusses her family background and their influence in her choice of college and major. She goes on to describe her nerve-wracking first day at Brown and her best and worst memories as an undergraduate. She shares memories of the Chinese and Asian history departments at Brown, her extracurricular activities, including work at the Rape Crisis Center the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, and Hillel activities. She also mentions social events she attended.

Marguerite Appleton, class of 1914

In this interview, Marguerite Appleton discusses her father, John Howard Appleton, a Brown chemistry professor; her reasons for choosing Brown; the abolition of the sorority system by Dean Lida Shaw King and the role of the Student Government Association in it.  Her sisters’ sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta; athletics including bowling; traditions such as Sophomore Masque, Ivy Day, and Commencement; other social activities, including dances and Komian plays; Her life after college includes teaching at the Lincoln School and Wheaton College; returning to Brown for a Ph.D.

Markita S. Morris, class of 1998

In this interview, Markita Morris, Brown University class of 1998, brings a perspective of a north Philadelphian who attended public school, was housing insecure, and who adored her time at Brown. This is also the Pembroke Center Oral History Project’s first interview conducted via FaceTime.

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.

Mary Hill Swope, class of 1955

Mary Hill Swope begins her interview discussing her childhood and family background, especially her family’s emphasis on education. She explains her decision to transfer to Pembroke College from the Women’s College at the University of North Carolina for her junior and senior year of college, making her decision largely due to Brown’s art program. Swope also speaks on her mother’s expectation that she would marry, while she preferred to pursue academic and professional interests.

Meryl Smith, class of 1966

In this interview, Meryl Smith remembers life as an Orthodox Jewish Pembroker. She recounts how, even before she attended Pembroke, her mother would welcome to dinner any Pembroke or Brown students who were trying to keep kosher. She fondly remembers the friendships formed around playing bridge and smoking cigarettes, and participating in Question Club, Answer Club, and acting as Class Marshal.

Rita Ann Chao, class of 1969

In this interview, Rita Ann Chao, class of 1969, discusses growing up in Vietnam, arriving in Maine, studying applied math at Brown University, and her career in software development, management consulting, and organization transformation. 

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.

Ruth Elizabeth Cooke, class of 1914

In Part 1, Ruth Elizabeth Cooke speaks about being the youngest of six children, her close relationship with her oldest brother, gathering garnets at Diamond Hill with her father, her love of nature and her natural ability to interpret color. After graduating from Classical High School in 1910, she attended Pembroke where she studied the Classics. Cooke speaks of Professor Manatt and Dean King. She remember playing center on the basketball team.

Stavroula James Balomenos, class of 1953

In this interview, Stavroula James Balomenos begins by describing her childhood in Portland, Maine, which consisted of “home, school, and church.” She tells of her father’s strong belief in the value of a good education—something he didn’t have the opportunity to receive—instilling the message with all his children that “education was the doorway to a good life.” He refused to give his daughters a dowry but rather chose to pay for their educations.

Sylvia Rosen, class of 1955

In Part 1 of this interview, Sylvia Rosen reflects on her freshman year at Pembroke College, the dormitories, dating, and meeting her husband.

In Part 2, she expands on the “thrilling” academic atmosphere at Pembroke, as well as her experience as one of the few Jewish students on campus.

Theresa Elizabeth Gagnon, class of 1939 - First Interview

Theresa Elizabeth Gagnon begins Part 1 of this interview by discussing her early experiences at Pembroke, including freshman orientation week and the embarrassing experience of taking posture photographs. She also talks about the academic curriculum at Pembroke, her passion for languages, and the strict physical education requirement. 

In Part 2, she talks about the interactions between men and women, dress codes and rules on campus, dorm girls vs. city girls, her passion for teaching, and the positive female influences found in college.

Virginia Belle Macmillan, class of 1938

Virginia Belle Macmillan begins Part 1 of her interview by describing her childhood and family in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She recalls her years at Pembroke College, in particular her role on the Pembroke Record staff, and as President of the Student Government Association. She also discusses life as a commuter student, attending college during the Depression, and interactions with Brown faculty members.