Interviews by Topic: Sexism

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.

50th Reunion, class of 1956

Geneva, Margaret, Barbara, Jane, Gretchen, Margie, and Jenifer begin their interview by reminiscing about their reasons for choosing Pembroke, citing the coordinate education system as an important part of their decision to attend Brown. They remember their dormitories, sledding down College Hill in snowstorms on trays they stole from the Ratty, and the food at the dining hall.

Alison Palmer, class of 1953

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.

Ancelin (Vogt, Lynch) Wolfe, class of 1968

In this interview, Ancelin (Vogt, Lynch) Wolfe, class of 1968, discusses her parents’ backgrounds as intellectuals and graduates of Harvard University and Radcliffe College. She notes that Radcliffe was her first-choice school but after being denied there it was a scholarship to Pembroke College that influenced her decision to attend. She explains the lack of support she felt from Pembroke administrators when her mother died during her sophomore year, and the general inequality she witnessed between services and activities offered to female versus male students.

Anita Louise Schell, class of 1979

Anita begins by discussing her family, and the support she had from her parents to attend college and to pursue what she loved. She then talks about her initial attraction to Brown University and her fond memories of the choir she was a part of throughout her four years, including her trip with a group to India. Anita then discusses dormitory life and her various experiences at Brown both inside and outside the classroom, highlighting her involvement with St. Stephen’s Church and religion on campus.

Beverly Irene Nanes, class of 1963

Beverly begins this interview with a discussion of her college selection process, gender expectations, roommates, distribution courses, curfew, Honor Council, and Convocation Committee. She goes on to discuss influential professors, married life, and the jobs she held in Boston. 

Cecile Lena Kantrowitz, class of 1930

Cecile begins the interview by explaining her Russian heritage and Jewish upbringing, her father's career as a Hebrew teacher and cantor and tracing her roots to Baal Shem Tov. She discusses her education at Classical High School; her mother’s liberated beliefs; and why she chose Pembroke. Regarding her education at Pembroke, Cecile describes her first days; joining Phi Beta Kappa; being a student of languages. She discusses founding the Debating Club and going against the grain by not doing homework and by rejecting certain dress codes.

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.

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.

Diane Scola, class of 1959

Diane 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. In track 2, Diane focuses on gender expectations in academia and the professional world, and the lack of women role models at Pembroke. She considers the expectation for women to get married, have children, and stay at home in suburbia, blaming society for placing limits on women.

Doris Madeline Hopkins, class of 1928

Doris Hopkins Stapleton 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.

Dorothy Myrtle Kay Fishbein, class of 1945

Dorothy begins this interview by describing her early life in Boston; how she came to be a student at Pembroke after beginning her college education at Simmons College; working in the children's goods store run by her family while attending Pembroke as a day student; her courses and professors; and the effects of World War II on campus and American culture more generally. 

Edna Ruth MacDonald, class of 1919

In a joint interview, Edna MacDonald and Ruth Peterson, ‘19, speak on the academic atmosphere at Brown and the heavy constraints placed on women’s conduct and careers in the early 1900s. They begin by discussing their decisions to attend Pembroke, describing the expectation of college education their families had for them. Edna imagines that perhaps their mothers regretted getting married early and not going to college, and wanted something different for them.

Esther Amelia (Snell) Dick, class of 1934

Dick begins this interview by speaking of her childhood in Reading, PA; coming to Pembroke and struggling early on with Meniere’s syndrome.  She discusses campus rules & requirements; clothing standards; restrictions with alcohol and smoking; and access to the Brown campus.  She gives her opinions of several professors and discusses being deeply affected by the Great Depression which included cooking all her meals in the science labs. She speaks of being discriminated against as a woman by the University as a student and later as a woman doing research in the sciences.

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.

Gwyneth Van Anden Walker, class of 1968

This interview comes from a career forum for music students held at the Orwig Music Building with Gwyneth Walker in Providence, Rhode Island on December 5, 1997. Walker speaks primarily of her life in Vermont, her successful career as a composer, and the challenges of the art form, but does reflect occasionally on her impactful time spent at Pembroke and Brown. She notes that she initially entered Pembroke with the intention of studying physics and following in her physicist father’s footsteps, but then quickly changed to pursue her love of music.

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.

Hilda Antoinette Calabro, class of 1945

Calabro begins the interview by telling why she chose to attend Pembroke; her experience as a "city girl;" World War II's effects on campus; respect and appreciation for Dean Morriss; co-ed foreign language classes; and modern dance classes. She speaks about the significance of May Day; dating between Brown and Pembroke students; her astronomy professor, teas, Chapel lectures, and BrownBrokers. She says that being at a women's college gave her the sense of being important as a woman.

Ingrid Winther Scobie, class of 1964

Ingrid Winther Scobie’s interview expresses the nuanced frustration women experience as a result of gender expectations that limit them and suppress their full potential. She begins her interview by discussing her childhood and early education. She reflects on her memories of the first day at Brown, her active social life, and her academics, pausing to note the lack of female role models at Pembroke.

Jeanette Dora Black, class of 1930

In this interview, Jeanette Black discusses her family; her education at Providence's Classical High School; reasons for attending college and for choosing Pembroke; her requirements and classes; her feelings about coeducation and the Pembroke administration, including Dean Morriss; working at the John Hay Library; and the effects of the stock market crash of 1929 and World War II on Pembroke.

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.

Judith Vivienne Korey, class of 1946

Judith begins the interview by talking about her early life and family. She then talks about her time at Pembroke and the kinds of courses she took. She discusses the effects of World War II on her college experience and how women were expected to help in the war efforts. Judith goes on to tell us about her extracurricular involvements at Pembroke and the kinds of jobs she took after graduating. Finally Judith discusses the friendships she made during college and how Pembroke often felt like one, big family. 

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.

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.

Lois Mae Black, class of 1953

In Part 1 of this interview, Lois Black describes coming to Pembroke College from a working class Massachusetts town; her first experiences of Pembroke; living in East House; and the differences between private and public high school students. She then discusses racism at Pembroke; the exclusion of women from the Brown Marching Band and Brown Sailing Association; and her participation in student movements for desegregation and reformation of gracious living regulations.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Romaine Ahlstrom, class of 1962

In Part 1, Romaine Ahlstrom discusses the many moves her family made as child; her reasons for choosing  to attend Pembroke College; the difficulties living in the sexist culture of the 1950s; her personal challenges at Pembroke; and the curriculum of Brown/Pembroke at the time.

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.

Ruth Dorothea Peterson, class of 1919

In a joint interview, Edna MacDonald and Ruth Peterson, ‘19, speak on the academic atmosphere at Brown and the heavy constraints placed on women’s conduct and careers in the early 1900s. They begin by discussing their decisions to attend Pembroke, describing the expectation of college education their families had for them. Edna imagines that perhaps their mothers regretted getting married early and not going to college, and wanted something different for them.

Sarah Elizabeth Minchin, class of 1913

In this interview, Sarah discusses the proliferation of theatre at Brown and in the greater Providence community. She tells us of the Talma Theatre, The Players Theatre, Henry Ames Barker, and elocution among other theatre-related endeavors.

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.