Oral Histories

UMass Collections Online
Terms of Use

Scope and Content Note

Transcripts of selected oral history interviews conducted in 1976 with University of Massachusetts alumni, former faculty and administrators, and their spouses.  Most transcripts are typewritten drafts with handwritten corrections or annotations presumably inserted by interview subjects. 

Interviews available here for digital access were selected because they relate in some way to issues of female education at the University, particularly early coeducation at Massachusetts Agricultural College. 

view document Barnard, Ellsworth (MAC 1928) and Mary Taylor Barnard (MSC 1934)
Ellsworth Barnard taught English at Massachusetts State College from 1930-33.  After subsequent teaching positions at a number of U.S. colleges and universities, he returned to the University of Massachusetts to teach from 1968-73. 

Barnard and his wife describe undergraduate life in the 1920s and 1930s, with particular reference to Ray "Doc" Torrey (a professor of Botany) and Professors Prince and F. P. Rand (both in the English department).  Ellsworth Barnard describes his work as University Ombudsman, ca. 1969-70.  Mary Barnard discusses the issue of course requirements and Prof. Torrey's reputation as a woman-hater.

view document Members of the Class of 1919
Joint interview with four members of the class: 
  1. Anna Liebman Shore: Chemistry major who worked as a chemist for Arthur D. Little in Boston and quit when she got married.
  2. Mary Garvey: Chemistry major who specialized in Microbiology; taught on the faculty of MAC from 1919 to 1962.
  3. Willard French: Pomology major who taught first at MAC, then in the Worcester (Mass.) city schools district, serving as principal at Clark High School from 1953 until his retirement in 1966.
  4. E. Sidney Stockwell:  Agricultural Economics major who was an itinerant worker in the western U.S. for several years and eventually ran his own business as a custom house broker.
Interviewees discuss Professors MacKimmie, Ashley and Fernald; the chapel requirement; college dining; Physical Education and Home Economics programs; the library in Stone Chapel; relations between male and female students and between graduating classes at MAC; war work; rivalry with students from Amherst College; and reflections on being an alumnus/alumna of MAC in the light of the many changes it underwent since they left.  Also, Anna Liebman Shore talks about her experience as an Orthodox Jew at MAC.
view document Conant, Eudora Van Meter
Eudora Van Meter Conant received training as a nutritionist and was the wife of Ralph Van Meter, a Professor of Pomology and President of the University from 1947 to 1954.  She mainly discusses her duties as the wife of the President (social activities, entertaining guests, furnishing the President's House, and working for the Advisory Council of Women).  She describes her husband's goals as President during the post-World War II period, the tremendous growth that the University underwent at that time, and particularly the increased enrollment of female students and the expansion of facilities and academic programs that they required.  She reads from letters she received from the first two female graduates of MAC, members of the Class of 1905 (Monica Lillian Sandborn Taft and Esther Coles Cushman).  Faculty members mentioned include Ray Torrey (Botany), Frank Waugh (Horticultural Division) and Fred Sears (Pomology).
view document Curtis, Helen
Helen Curtis served as Dean of Women at the University from 1945 to 1973.  In this interview, Curtis outlines the broad changes in women’s enrollment and campus life which occurred during these years, and she explains her involvement in University decision-making.  She describes the early influence of President Butterfield and the Advisory Council of Women; the design of women’s dormitories, dorm organization, life, and regulations; women's academic interests and performance; campus leadership of the WSGA and women’s honor societies;  efforts to increase financial aid for women; the admission of returning women students; the University's first efforts to address women's health issues such as sex education, unwanted pregnancies, and mental health; approaches to issues of campus safety including rape and the use of alcohol and drugs.
view document Mitchell, Helen
Helen Mitchell became Dean of the School of Home Economics at the University in 1946, after teaching at several colleges and working as a Nutritionist for the U.S. Government during World War II.  She describes the development of the School of Home Economics, the building of Skinner Hall, and the use of the Homestead.  Mitchell explains the research on nutrition and children's growth in Japan which she performed while an exchange scholar at Hokkaido University.  She also addresses the evolution of Home Economics as a discipline, its approach to educating women, and its status at the University.  Helen Mitchell retired in 1960.  A bibliography of her published work is included.
view document Wheeler, Mae F.  Holden
Mae F. Holden Wheeler was a member of the Class of 1916 and later worked in the Department of Botany at MAC.  She recalls her coursework, specific teachers (Professors Osmun, Gordon, and Hasbrouck), and her immersion in her studies at MAC.  She also describes campus living arrangements (including her year in the home of President Butterfield), the physical education requirement, Stockbridge Hall, and the shared library and chapel building.  Emphasis is placed on the "family" of women students and faculty wives in the years before women's enrollment increased.

© 1999 Five Colleges, Inc.