Interviews by Topic: Feminism

25th Reunion, class of 1985

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1985 summarizes the economically, socially, and racially diverse undergraduate experiences of Frances S. Lee, Suzanne Beth Goldberg, Margaret E. Rosen, Karen Smith, Allyson Tucker, Katherine Sabin Melchoir, and Jill Anne Hereford, at their 25th reunion.

First, the interviewees are asked why they chose to attend Brown and what their thoughts and experiences were concerning the “new curriculum” that abolished course requirements and allowed for a more open exploration of subjects.

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 1991

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1991 captures the undergraduate experiences of Sharon Louise Besser, Christina Anne Valeo, Pamela Bass, Prudence Carter and Triane Chang, at their 25th reunion.

The interviewees begin by introducing themselves, sharing their majors, and briefly describing what attracted them to Brown. They laud the university’s focus on undergraduate experiences and education and share some of their most influential professors including Martha Joukowsky, Anani Dzidzienyo, and Arlene Gorton.

25th Reunion, class of 1992

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1992, captures the diverse undergraduate experiences of Aelish Marie Joyce, Rhonda Cherie Boyd, Resa Ellen Lewiss, Cristina Marie Lopez, Deborah Jane Pearlman, Samantha Lauren Fine Schreiber, Linda Jill Siegel, Jessika Sorrosa, and Karen Young, 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.

Charlotte Ferguson, class of 1924

In this interview, Ferguson tells why she chose to attend Pembroke College over Wellesley College; 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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Eleanor Francis Sarle, class of 1928

In this interview, conducted sixty years after her graduation, Eleanor Francis Sarle, class of 1928, explains that there was never any question that she would become a school teacher and receive her education at Brown University – known then as the Women’s College at Brown University – because her father, three uncles, and cousins had all graduated from Brown. She also explains that after taking courses in education and biology she found her niche in sociology.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Katherine May Hazard, class of 1933

In Part 1 of this interview, Katherine May Hazard begins by discussing daily life at Pembroke College. 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 her involvement on campus. Outside of class, there were a variety of activities and, oftentimes, formal dances. She remembere Dean Margaret Shove Morris telling them that Pembrokers were not preparing for a specific career, but for life.

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.

Linda J. Peters, class of 1982

In Part 1 of her interview, Linda J. Peters begins by sharing some background information, including her multiracial identity and growing up in a black neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. She also recalls her reasons for choosing to attend Brown University.

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.

Lydia L. English, class of 1985

Lydia L. English came to Brown in 1981 as a resumed undergraduate education student, after having worked in banking in the U.S. Virgin Islands for eight years. In this interview, 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.

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.

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 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.  

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.

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.

Northrop/Forman Family, class of 1954, 1983, 2013

Conducted in 2013, this interview records three generations of Brown University graduates who share their individual and collective experiences at Brown from the 1950s to 2013. Interviews include Diane Lake, class of 1954, her daughter Melanie Northrop, class of 1983, and granddaughter Sarah Forman, class of 2013.

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.

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.

Polly Adams Welts, class of 1951

Polly Adams Welts begins this interview by recounting her family life  in Haverhill, Massachusetts before and after World War II. In Part 1, she also talks about dating among freshmen at Pembroke College, her work as a waitress, the participation of city girls – female day students who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus in work and extracurricular activities, and her role as editor of the school newspaper, The Pembroke Record.  

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.

Ruth Lilian Wade, class of 1933

In this interview, Ruth Lilian Wade begins by sharing her biographical and family background. She talks about her mother who was a supporter of female suffrage and determined that her daughter should attend Pembroke College. In Part 1, Wade also describes her experience at as a "city girl" from Central Falls and the attitudes of her classmates. She discusses the limited job opportunities for women during the Great Depression and taking courses at the Rhode Island College of Education.

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.

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.