Interviews by Topic: Activism

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.

Alice Mary Clark Donahue, class of 1946

Part 1 begins with Alice Clark Donahue's recollections of her first impressions of Pembroke College, her involvement as a speech teacher, and being an assistant to Sock and Buskin. She then mentions her vast volunteer experience and discusses the implications of marriage and children on women's career opportunities. She elaborates on her volunteer work after graduation and her positions with the Junior Women's Club and the Junior Assembly of Rhode Island.

Anna Rena Hass, class of 1917

In the first part of the interview, Anna discusses early life on her family’s farm and the decision to attend Pembroke despite wanting to get married and become a nurse. Anna 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, Anna elucidates the Brown dress code and describes political events, life in Cuba, and her arrest. 

Carol Rita Dannenberg, class of 1966

Carol Dannenberg Frenier states that she was the one in her family who had big aspirations. She discusses her decision to attend Pembroke; dating life; student/professor relationships; her involvement with student government; the tension over curfews and Dean Pierrel; the lack of role models on campus; being involved in the Peace Corps during summer break; working in DC after graduation, meeting her husband; working as a teacher in Brookline; getting her graduate degree and opening an advertising agency in Boston with her husband.

Charlotte Lowney, class of 1957

In this interview, Charlotte Lowney Tomas, looking back on a 40-year career with Pembroke and Brown, details her upward trajectory through the ranks of the institution’s administration, beginning with her position as the secretary to Pembroke President Wriston. In 1962, she became the director of career placement at Brown, during both an exciting and tumultuous period on the Pembroke-Brown campus. Describing the politics of the administration, she notes the lack of equal pay between men and women throughout the University, attributing the disparity to both circumstance and discrimination.

Charlotte Nell Cook, class of 1964

In Part 1 of this interview, Charlotte Cook Morse discusses her upbringing, how she came to Pembroke with the help of scholarship aid, and her general academic experience during her college years. She then recalls an anecdote about dating, describes the dynamics between male and female students, and touches on the near-total lack of black and other minority students. She thoroughly discusses the strict parietal laws that came about during the office of Dean Pierrel. In Part 2, she finishes the section on parietal laws and discusses birth control.

Constance Worthington, class of 1968

Connie begins by talking about her family’s involvement in Brown University, and her eventual decision to transfer to Brown. 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. Connie continues on talking about her involvement the Josiah Carberry Book Fund and the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. She also mentions her female role models at Brown during both her time as a student and professional in Providence.

Elizabeth Jackson, class of 1945

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.

Ferelene Nanette "Nan" Bailey, class of 1974

Nan Bailey begins by discussing her childhood and the benefits of living overseas during her childhood, her experience applying to Brown University and her expectations. The interview spends a large amount of time discussing the various and bountiful activist groups Bailey participated in, and more broadly, the social turmoil during the seventies (Vietnam War, birth control, etc.). Towards the end, she tells of her experiences after graduation, and how she was able to take her enthusiasm for the groups she was involved in on campus and carry them out into her career.

Javette Damorra Pinkney, class of 1980

In this interview, Javette Pinkney Laremont begins by explaining the academic initiative and activist spirit that brought her to Brown. There, she fondly remembers a “feeling of community” and campus dating, in spite of instances of racism. She describes her involvement in a number of campus activities and social groups; spearheading the College Venture Program; why her Brown experience was unique; her work at the Black Heritage Society; the shared black experience and moral obligation to teach men to respect women.

Joyce Loretta Richardson, class of 1963

Joyce begins her interview by discussing the experiences and people that led her to apply and attend Pembroke, 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.

Justine Tyrrell, class of 1943

In Part 1, Justine discusses her family’s connections to the Brown community and how it affected her decision to attend; the campus-wide reactions and attitudes towards the events of World War II; her correspondences with soldiers abroad; her work with the Noyes Foundation; and her career in journalism including how she got her job at the New York Amsterdam News. In Part 2 of the interview, Justine goes on to explain her relationship with Malcolm X; discusses racism in the South; and briefly reviews what her life has been like since she has retired.

Katharine Pierce, class of 1962

On the occasion of her 50th Reunion, Katharine Pierce looks back on the highlights of her time at Pembroke. She begins by explaining her expectations for Pembroke and the “finishing school for Episcopal girls” that she found in its stead. Pierce talks about dorm life; her dissatisfaction with that atmosphere; her time pursuing social work as well as her work resettling refugees in Vietnam at the National Council of Churches.

Katherine Virginia (Niles) Faulkner, class of 1936

Katherine describes her early life in North Carolina; coming from a rural town with little emphasis on education; her initial hardship adjusting to life at Pembroke; her involvement in the Pembroke Christian Association (PCA); the Peace Movement between the two World Wars; fraternities; dorm life; and graduation. She discusses the death of her first husband; the decision to go back to work; and supporting her family. She outlines her career working for universities, museums, and corporations.

Lucile Kay Wawzonek, class of 1972

In part 1 of her interview, Lucile Wawzonek Thompson 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.

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 Margery’s 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.

Marjorie Alice Jones, class of 1954

Marjorie Alice Jones Stenberg 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 her interview by discussing her family background and reasons for attending Pembroke. She describes her experience as a transfer student and speaks on professors and academics, considering the closed attitude towards women in academia.

Martha Naomi Gardner, class of 1988

In Part 1 of this interview, Martha Gardner discusses the women's march and speakout held in the spring of 1985. She describes the fraternity activities and campus conditions that prompted female students to plan a day of events that addressed sexual violence, gender discrimination, and homophobia at Brown.  Part 2 focuses on the aftermath of the 1985 women's march and speakout; Martha's involvement with the Sarah Doyle Women's Center; gay and lesbian outreach and activism on campus; and her work as a Woman's Peer Counselor.

Martha Sharp Cogan, class of 1926

Martha Alice Ingham Dickie Sharp Cogan 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, Martha and her husband traveled to Czechoslovakia to help the refugees.

Martha Sharp Cogan, class of 1926

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

Miriam Dale "Mimi" Pichey, class of 1972

Miriam Dale Pichey’s interview is an energetic insight into the politics of student life at Brown 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.

Rosemary Pierrel, class of 1953

Dr. Rosemary Pierrel Sorrentino describes her leadership as Dean of Pembroke from 1961 through 1972. Dr. Sorrentino, or Dean Pierrel as she was known to Pembrokers, reviews the rapidly changing societal norms, her perceptions of the demands upon Pembroke and upon her role as Dean, and the failure of leadership that led to the abrupt end of Pembroke College as an administrative unit within Brown University. She is quite candid about her opinions and her colleagues. She notes that shared values began to erode after 1966-67.

Susan Graber, class of 1971

In this interview Susan Graber Slusky discusses her family and the role it played in shaping her academic life. She talks about the reasons she chose Pembroke College and the challenges of being a woman in physics.

Susan A. Semonoff, class of 1968

Susan begins by talking about her family, her choice to attend Pembroke, 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). Susan also discusses at length the social life on campus.

Susan Virginia Cowell, class of 1969

Susan Cowell explains her reasons for choosing to attend Pembroke College; her expectations for campus culture; her roommate's struggles with class differences; the social life of Pembroke; her own her peers' efforts to protest the Girls School culture, including stealing the chimes, and a march to the Dean's house; her feelings about Pembroke's merger with Brown; the effect of national student movements on curriculum reform; and political actions including a sit-in at City Hall, the 1968 black student walkout, and students turning their backs on Henry Kissinger at Commencement.