Interviews by Topic: Politics

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.

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.

25th Reunion, class of 1993

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1993 documents the undergraduate experiences of Kenya F.

50th Reunion, class of 1969

This interview with members of the Pembroke College class of 1969 documents the undergraduate experiences of Kathryn H. Au, Rita Ann Chao, Maria Garcia, Kathryn Troyer, and Lucy Jane Wollaeger, at their 50th reunion.

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.

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. 

Bella Skolnick, class of 1933

Bella Skolnik’s interview provides a passionate story of activism in health, education, and welfare. She begins by reflecting on her thoughtful and supportive family and her childhood and moves on to tell vivid stories of her freshman year at Pembroke College, including her college friendships, house mother, dating, dormitories, "gracious living," and seeing the world through rose colored glasses. She considers the stock market crash in October 1929and the way it formed her and her peers’ college careers.

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.

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.

Doris Madeline Hopkins, class of 1928

In Part 1 of this interview, Doris Madeline Hopkins begins by discussing her early education and family life in Rhode Island. She talks about the expectations for “nice girls” at Pembroke College in the 1920s, about the curriculum, and the classes she took. She talks about 1920s fashion, dancing and bootleg liquor, including clubs around the city where students could go to drink. Hopkins talks about reading for classes and getting books from the public library when they were unavailable elsewhere. She also mentions her friendship with Alice Elizabeth O'Connor.

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.

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.

Finch Collins, class of 2021

In this interview, Finch Collins, class of 2021, describes his early memories of his time at Brown University and explains how COVID-19 has impacted his undergraduate experience.

Grace Amelia McAuslan, class of 1928

In this interview, Grace Amelia McAuslan begins by explaining why she decided to attend Pembroke College and what her first impressions were. She notes some of the courses she took as a sociology concentrator and momentarily remembers participating in the Pembroke orchestra. She shares brief memories of Dean Margaret Shove Morriss and Dean Anne Crosby Emery Allinson.

Hilary Berger Ross, class of 1963

Hilary Berger Ross begins Part 1 of her 1988 interview by discussing her search for community at Pembroke College, and speaks about her experience as a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus. She remembers Pembroke rules and studying women in Shakespeare. She explains that the birth of her first child galvanized her to feminism and specifically women’s health issues. For her, childbirth should be entirely in the hands of the woman who gives birth and her loved one.

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.  

Justice Gaines, class of 2016

In this interview, Justice Gaines, Brown University class of 2016, discusses her undergraduate career at Brown and highlights her activism on campus.

Gaines begins by sharing some background on her high school experiences participating in theatre of the oppressed and JROTC in New Jersey. She explains choosing to attend Brown on the recommendation of her mother and describes how she found her friend groups on campus. She mentions participating in Gravediggers Poetry Collective and the Third World Center, now the Brown Center for Students of Color.

Kim A. Taylor, class of 1977

This interview with Kim A.Taylor, class of 1977, was captured during the 2018 Black Alumni Reunion. Taylor begins with her childhood and upbringing within a musical/artist community of Harlem, and how that led to her decision to attend Brown University. This segment of the interview includes an interesting recollection of meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr when Taylor was a child.

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.

Lynn Nottage, class of 1986, and Ruby Aiyo Gerber, class of 2020

In this interview, Lynn Nottage, Pulitzer-prize winning playwright and Brown University class of 1986, and her daughter, Ruby Aiyo Gerber, Brown University class of 2020, discuss their experiences at Brown, living through the COVID-19 global pandemic, and processing the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

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.

Margaret Waterman, class of 1927

In this interview, Margaret Waterman discusses her decision to attend Pembroke College – known then as the Women’s College in Brown University – for one year, her transfer to Smith College, and her return to Pembroke for her senior year. She mentions medical care in the early twentieth century when she discusses her diagnoses of swollen glands and her father’s fatal battle with pneumonia. She speaks extensively of her time in athletics at Pembroke, primarily on the basketball and tennis teams.  She also recalls interacting with men on campus and discusses mid-1920s fashion.

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.

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.

Marjorie Alice Jones, class of 1954

Marjorie Alice Jones speaks as a member of the silent generation and considers the busy, active life she’s lead despite the fact that nobody expected anything from the women of her generation. She begins Part 1 of her interview by discussing her family background and reasons for attending Pembroke College. She describes her experience as a transfer student and speaks on professors and academics, considering the closed attitude towards women in academia.

Martha Alice Ingham Dickie, class of 1926 - First Interview

Martha Alice Ingham Dickie begins her 1985 interview discussing both her religious and academic backgrounds, elaborating on her interests in social work and international politics. These religious and intellectual values converged in 1939, when Czechoslovakia was being threatened by the Nazis and the Unitarian Churches there had been occupied. As part of the American Relief for Czechoslovakia program, Dickie and her husband traveled to Czechoslovakia to help the refugees.

Martha Alice Ingham Dickie, class of 1926 - Second Interview

In the first part of her 1987 interview, Martha Alice Ingham Dickie discusses her family background, her life at Brown, and her social work during her time at Northwestern. Also in tracks 1 and 2, Dickie reflects on meeting her husband, Waitstill Sharp, and starting a family and ministry together while taking classes at Radcliffe at Harvard.

Miriam Dale Pichey, class of 1972

Miriam Dale Pichey’s interview is an energetic insight into the politics of student life at Brown University in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She describes both the campus atmosphere of gendered social rules and struggling for equal representation after the Pembroke-Brown merger, and the broader political environment of student activism during the Vietnam War and Civil Rights movement. She begins her interview discussing her family background and reasons for coming to the East coast to attend Brown.

Penelope Claire Hartland, class of 1940

Penelope Claire Hartland begins this interview by focusing on her education. She describes her academic achievements at Pembroke College, as well as the significance of being the only Pembroke student to concentrate in economics. She details her educational and social experiences at both Pembroke and Radcliffe, where she received her Ph.D. The interview then transitions to Hartland's career, which began with a teaching appointment in Brown's Department of Economics. She describes her interview with Brown University President Henry Wriston.

Rita Duarte Marinho, class of 1979

In this interview, Rita Duarte Marinho discusses her experiences pursuing a doctoral degree in political science at Brown University from 1975 to 1979.

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.

Samantha Kiernan, class of 2019

In this interview, Samantha Kiernan, Brown University class of 2019, discusses her experiences during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Kiernan discusses international news and anecdotal stories and later her personal struggle with potentially catching COVID-19.

Sara Matthiesen, class of 2015

In this interview, Sara Matthiesen, Brown University class of 2015, discusses her experiences as a professor and social justice activist in Washington, DC, during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Shibei Guo, class of 2020

In this interview, Shibei Guo, Brown University class of 2020, shares her experiences as an international student from Wuhan, China, during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Susan Cowell, class of 1969

In this interview, Susan Cowell explains her reasons for choosing to attend Pembroke College, her expectations for campus culture, her roommate's struggles with class differences, and the social life of Pembroke. She also discusses her own her peers' efforts to protest the Girls School culture, including stealing the chimes, and a march to the Dean's house.

Susan A. Semonoff, class of 1968

In this interview, Susan A. Semonoff begins by talking about her family, her choice to attend Pembroke College, and the challenge of the academics once she arrived. She discusses her various classes and the tumultuous atmosphere at Brown/Pembroke in the sixties (The Vietnam War, the changing attitude towards women, and what inspired her to become president of the Student Government Association). Semonoff also discusses at length the social life on campus.

Wendy Edwards, Faculty

In this interview, Chair and Professor of Visual Arts, Wendy Edwards, describes her journey to becoming a professional painter and discusses her 40-year tenure at Brown University.

Edwards begins by briefly mentioning her parents’ educational backgrounds and then detailing her early life living on a farm in Virginia outside of Washington, DC, and visiting her grandmother in New York City. She describes the influence these two different experiences had on her interest in art and explains why she decided to attend the Philadelphia College of Art, now the University of the Arts.

Yvonne Ruiz, class of 1977

In this interview conducted during the 2018 all-class Black Alumni Reunion, Yvonne Ruiz, Brown University class of 1977, discusses her time on campus as well as her subsequent legal career.