All of us at the Pembroke Center were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Barbara Anton at home in Orleans, MA on June 20, 2020. Barbara earned an A.B. in sociology from Clark University and a master’s in counseling from the University of Michigan. After working at the Center for the Continuing Education of Women at the University of Michigan, Barbara moved to Brown with her husband Thomas Anton, the A. Alfred Taubman Professor of Public Policy and American Institutions and founding director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy. Barbara joined the Pembroke Center in 1983, just two years after the Center’s founding, as the inaugural coordinator the of Pembroke Center Associates.
Over nearly two decades, Barbara developed programs by and for alumnae that complemented the academic mission of the Center and helped secure the Center’s future. She became coordinator of alumnae affairs in 1984, and advanced campaigns building institutional support for the Center as well as initiatives ranging from the Pembroke Center Oral History Project (then known as Brown Women Speak) to commencement forums. Joan Wallach Scott, in her book “Gender and the Politics of History,” wrote that the Pembroke Center “would not have run smoothly without the skill, patience, and enthusiasm of Barbara Anton and Elizabeth Barboza [the coordinating secretary]; in fact it would not have run at all. I learned a great deal from both of them about what a cooperative enterprise really means and about the support women can provide for one another.”
To honor Barbara’s many contributions to the Center, a research grant was established in her name when she retired. The Barbara Anton Community Research Grant has been awarded annually by the Pembroke Center since the academic year 2000-01. It is awarded to undergraduate students writing an honors thesis involving community work related to the welfare of women and children, and has enabled 20 students to perform research on topics ranging from sexual health education and practice in South African adolescents living with HIV, to abortion rights in Morocco, to anti-rape activism in prisons.
Barbara Anton was deeply important to the Pembroke Center, and we are glad and grateful that her legacy lives on in the strength of our programs and in the exceptional student work that her grant continues to support.