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.

25th Reunion, class of 1986

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1986 highlights the undergraduate experiences of Lisa M. Caputo, Linda M. Sanches, Marcy A. Sandler, Judith Anne Williams, Pamela B. Weiler, Janet L. Kroll, and Christa M. Champion, during their 25th reunion in May 2011.

25th Reunion, class of 1987

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1987 encapsulates the undergraduate experiences of Carol M. Snow, Kim S. Reuben, Mary Lou Jepsen, Valerie T. Tutson, Trinita E. Brown, Baishali Rinku Sen, Stephanie L. Grace, Rebecca M. Zeigler, and Pamela D. Gerrol, at their 25th reunion.

25th Reunion, class of 1988

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1988 summarizes the undergraduate experiences of Christine Arbor, Claire Cavanah, Martha Gardner, Kasia Welin, and Diana Wells, at their 25th reunion.

Alice Mary Clark, class of 1946

Alice Mary Clark begins her interview by briefly describing her childhood on Charlesfield Street in Providence, Rhode Island. There is some trouble with the recording and Clark picks up with an anecdote of a post-graduation opportunity in the speech department with Sock and Buskin director, Janice Vanderwater. She explains her love of speech and elocution, and briefly mentions one year of studies at Columbia University and Salve Regina.

Anna Rena Hass, class of 1917

In the first part of the interview, Anna Rena 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. 

Arlene Elizabeth Gorton, class of 1952

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.

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.

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.

Charlotte Lowney, class of 1957

In this interview, Charlotte Lowney, looking back on a 40-year career with Pembroke College and Brown University, details her upward trajectory through the ranks of the institution’s administration, beginning with her position as the secretary to Brown President Henry Merrit Wriston. In 1962, she became the director of career placement at Brown, during both an exciting and tumultuous period on the Pembroke-Brown campus.

Charlotte Nell Cook, class of 1964

In Part 1 of this interview, Charlotte Nell Cook discusses her upbringing, her decision to attend Pembroke College 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 Rosemary Pierrel.

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.

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.

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.

Hannelore Banks Rodriguez, class of 1987

In this interview, Hannelore Banks Rodriguez details her path to and through a career in higher education. She begins by sharing some of her parent’s backgrounds including their immigration from the Philippines to Fargo, North Dakota, her father’s pursuit of a Ph.D., and her mother’s desire for a medical technician degree. She also explains some of the difficulties she encountered in her early education as a Filipino student growing up in her hometown of in West Philadelphia.

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.

Ingrid Ellen Winther, class of 1964

In this interview, Ingrid Ellen Winther begins by discussing her childhood and early education. She reflects on her memories of the first day at Pembroke College, her active social life, and her academics, pausing to note the lack of female role models at Pembroke. She felt that women were being educated to be good mothers and good wives, and while women felt that they could work and get a decent job, they were ultimately going to be married and be homemakers.

Javette D. Pinkney, class of 1980

In this interview, Javette D. Pinkney begins by explaining the academic initiative and activist spirit that brought her to Brown. 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 and recalls spearheading the College Venture Program - a pilot program financed by the Braitmayer Foundation to help students who needed or wanted to drop out of college temporarily.

Johanna Fernandez, class of 1993

In this interview, Johanna Fernandez highlights her undergraduate experience as an activist at Brown University. She spends the first fifty minutes discussing her parents’ backgrounds as immigrants from the Dominican Republic and the effect that had on her childhood growing up in the Bronx, 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.

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.

Katharine Curtis Pierce, class of 1962

On the occasion of her 50th Reunion, Katharine Curtis Pierce looks back on the highlights of her time at Pembroke College. 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 Faulkner, class of 1936

In this interview, speaking nearly fifty years after graduation from Pembroke College, Katherine Virginia Faulkner begins Part 1 of her interview by describing the intellectual difficulty she encountered in her transition from public schools in Henderson, North Carolina. She explains choosing to attend Pembroke for the different culture it fostered compared to that in North Carolina, as well as how she decided to concentrate in psychology.

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.

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.

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 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 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.  

In Part 2, Gardner  focuses on the aftermath of the 1985 women's march and speakout. She discusses her 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 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.

Phyllis A. Kollmer, class of 1966

In this interview, Phyllis A. Kollmer discusses the general course requirements for obtaining a degree from Pembroke College in Brown University as well as some of her favorite courses, including Ancient History, Classical History, and Economics. She mentions her musical contributions to the Chattertocks and the social dynamics of coeducational courses. Additionally, Kollmer details the different rules for men and women living on campus and how an infraction involving a visit to a fraternity house resulted in her and her boyfriend being expelled for one semester.

Rosemary Pierrel, class of 1953

In this interview, 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.

Socialist Feminist Caucus at the 40th Anniversary of Sojourner House, class of 1970s

This interview with Brown University alumnae Tracy E. Fitzpatrick (1976), Catherine J. Lewis (1976), Linda M. Kramer (1977), and Christina Crosby (Ph.D., 1982), chronicles their experiences in the Socialist Feminst Caucus and the founding of Sojourner House, a domestic violence agency based in Providence, at its 40th anniversary celebration.

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.

Susan E. Graber, class of 1971

Susan E. Graber begins Part 1 her interview by sharing some family background information such as her mother’s college education and the expectation that her children would also attend college. She explains why she chose to attend Pembroke College and recalls some difficulties she faced as a woman pursuing science. Graber remembers her ambivalence about pursuing graduate school and the overall assumption that Pembroke graduates would go on to a career or graduate work.