Interviews by Topic: Feminism

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.

Charlotte Ferguson, class of 1924

In this interview, Ferguson tells why she chose Pembroke over Wellesley; how following a woman she admired, she wanted to become a Boston insurance agent; and that she never felt she needed to be liberated.  She discusses the remnants of Victorianism; marching for suffrage before age ten, and always having had a female doctor. She recalls the rules and regulations of Pembroke; mandatory chapel and the speeches given by Deans Allinson and Morriss; and the Brown/Pembroke merger which she opposed.

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.

Cynthia Lee Jenner, class of 1961

In Part I, Cynthia 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, both of which sought (though failed) to prepare her for “gracious living.” She goes on to discuss deciding on Pembroke; her tour guide; living at 87 Prospect Street (now Machado House); and her advanced, discussion-based coursework.

Doris Madeline Hopkins, class of 1928

Doris begins Part 1 by discussing her early education and family life in Rhode Island. Doris talks about the expectations for “nice girls” at Brown in the 1920s, and about the curriculum at Brown, 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. Doris talks about reading for classes and getting books from the public library when they were unavailable elsewhere. She mentions her friendship with Alice Chmielewski.

Edna Frances (Anness) Graham, class of 1950

In Part 1, Edna discusses her family background; 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.

Helen Elizabeth Butts, class of 1928

In this interview Helen starts by discussing life at Pembroke, 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 Morriss, marriage ideals, and transition to computer usage. Helen finishes the interview by revealing her opinions on graduate school, housewives, and feminism.

Katherine May Hazard, class of 1933

In Part 1, Katherine begins by discussing daily life at Pembroke. For her, this meant commuting to campus and becoming used to the regimented life at Pembroke. She explains some of the requirements, what it was like to date mathematicians and that there was no way to not be involved on such a small campus. While she had mostly male professors, she believes that they were unhappy with trekking up to the Pembroke campus. Outside of class, there were a variety of activities and, oftentimes, formal dances.

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.

Linda Jennifer Peters Mahdesian, class of 1982

Linda Peters Mahdesian begins this interview by talking about her family background in Chicago, Illinois; her reasons for choosing Brown; the experience of bi-racial students at Brown; and the Women's Movement on campus. In Part 2, she discusses her jobs after graduation; hiring of minority faculty; and the choices that women have to make as a result of the gains of the Women's Movement.

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.

Lydia Lauretia English, class of 1985

Lydia English came to Brown in 1981 as a resumed undergraduate education student, after having worked in banking in the US Virgin Islands for eight years. English states that her initial motivation to receive a liberal arts education was her newfound interest “in how cultures interact,” gathered from her extensive work in the Caribbean. English talks extensively on the challenge of juggling an adult, professional, career life with an undergraduate education, particularly with regards to managing finances, as she supported herself throughout.

Margaret Moers Wenig, class of 1978

[2013 Interview] Margaret Wenig begins by discussing her admission to Brown, 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.

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.

Mary Hill Swope, class of 1955

Mary 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 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. Mary also speaks on her mother’s expectation that she would marry, while she preferred to pursue academic and professional interests. An art major, Mary reflects on her courses and teachers at Brown and RISD.

Penelope Claire Hartland-Thunberg, class of 1940

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

Polly Adams Welts Kaufman, class of 1951

Polly Welts Kaufman begins this interview by recounting her family life  in Haverhill, Massachusetts before and after World War II. In Part 1, she also talks about the dating scene among freshmen at Pembroke; her work as a waitress; the participation of city girls in work and extracurricular activities; and her role as editor of the Pembroke Record.  

Ruth Lilian Wade Cerjanec, class of 1933

This interview begins with biographical and family information about Ruth, whose mother was a supporter of female suffrage and determined that her daughter should attend Pembroke College. In Part 1, Ruth also describes her experience at as a "city girl" from Central Falls and the attitudes of her classmates.