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Pembroke College (Brown University): Wikis


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Pembroke College in Brown University was the coordinate women's college for Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1891 and closed in 1971.


Founding and early history

The founding of the Women's College in Brown University in October 1891 provided an organizational structure to allow women to attend that institution. Men, meanwhile, continued to attend the male-only Brown College. The system resembled those at Columbia University (Columbia College for men, Barnard College for women) and Harvard University (Harvard College for men, Radcliffe College for women).

Brown's single-sex status had first been challenged in April 1874, when the university received an application from a female. [1] The Advisory and Executive Committee decided that admitting women at the time was not a good proposal, but they continued to revisit the matter annually until 1888. Subsequent discussions led to the creation of the Women's College October 1 1891. The first women students were: Maude Bonner, Clara Comstock, Nettie Goodale Murdoch, Elizabeth Peckham, Anne T. Weeden and Mary Emma Woolley. Their classes were held at a grammar school that had once been associated with Brown. After the boys went home at two o’clock, the women arrived to learn from their professors in a classroom on the second floor. The school had no lights, so the women worked until the daylight was too dim to read by. Official recognition of the college as a body of the university came in 1896. The college received its own faculty in 1903.


Deans of Pembroke College

1892-1900 Louis Franklin Snow

1900-1905 Anne Crosby Emery

1905-1923 Lida Shaw Kind

1923-1950 Margaret Shove Morriss

1950-1961 Nancy Duke Lewis

1961-1971 Rosemary Pierrel

Later history and coeducation

In 1928, the Women's College was renamed "Pembroke College in Brown University" in honor of Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge in England. Roger Williams, one of the founders of Rhode Island, was an alumnus of Cambridge's Pembroke. Due to this, one of the buildings on Brown's campus had been named "Pembroke Hall." This was the building on the Brown campus where most "Pembrokers," as Women's College students were already known, attended classes. The Women's College had also already been using the coat of arms of Cambridge's Pembroke for formal decoration on programs and pins.

The "coordinate" status of Pembroke College was valued because it allowed women to take courses with Brown students yet still maintain the advantage of a single-sex education. This included a separate student government, separate newspaper and separate social clubs.

In 1969, students from Pembroke and Brown began living in shared dormitories. Since women students had been attending classes and participating in extracurricular activities at Brown for some time, the Advisory and Executive Council proposed a merger between the colleges. On July 1, 1971, the merger became official, with all undergraduate students being admitted to and attending the same college.

In 1981, the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women was established at Brown, billing itself as a "center for interdisciplinary research on gender and society." Its mission also includes the preservation of the history of women at Brown. Affiliated with the Sarah Doyle Women's Center, it is home to the university's Gender Studies program and publishes the academic journal differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies.

Although Brown became a fully coeducational institution with the merger, the history of women at Brown was still evolving. On September 3, 1991, Jill Ker Conway, the president of the all-female Smith College, delivered the opening convocation address to the student body in celebration of Brown's 100 years of women on campus. A four-day symposium was also held in October of that year in order to discuss women's issues, with President of Ireland Mary Robinson delivering the keynote address.

By the 2005-2006 academic year, 51% of students at Brown University were female.

Notable alumnae

The first graduates were Mary Emma Woolley and Anne Tillinghast Weeden in 1894. In early graduation programs, the names of the female graduates were listed in a special section below those of men. See also the List of Brown University people. By 1910, 40% of students were from outside Rhode Island.


  • "Brown University: At a Glance." The College Board. 2006.
  • "Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women." July 24, 2001. National Council for Research on Women.
  • "Pembroke Center: About Us." Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women.
  • Mitchell, Martha. "Pembroke College." Encyclopedia Brunoniana. 1993. Providence, RI: Brown University Library.
  • Mitchell, Martha. "Seal." Encyclopedia Brunoniana. 1993. Providence, RI: Brown University Library.
  • Kaufman, Polly Welts "The Search for Equity: Women at Brown University, 1891-1991" Brown University Press, Providence, RI 1991.
  • Pembroke Club of Providence, "This was Pembroke," Providence R.I., August 2002.

External links


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