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.

Winther moves on to discuss her life after graduation with emphasis on her graduate work, meeting her first husband, and raising children while moving according to her husband’s teaching positions. She considers the struggle of making a name for herself as a woman historian, especially as the daughter of a famous historian and the wife of an even more renowned scholar. She speaks on the difficulty of being a woman in academia while raising four children and the lack of support for her choices.

Winther remembers not wanting to be Mrs. James Scobie after the death of her husband, and pursuing validation for her tremendous potential independent of her brilliant husband and brilliant father. She discusses teaching at a women’s college, and considers the difficulty of keeping her personal life separate from her professional life. She speaks on discrimination within her academic professional life, and learning to retort at sexist comments.

Winther contemplates how gender expectations learned from her parents shaped her career, discussing the difficulty of overcoming the expectation that her husband’s career came first and the imperative of valorizing her intellectual self-esteem outside relationships with men. Winther ends her interview by considering the intellectual stimulation she found at Pembroke, and her interest in art as an escape from the tension in her personal and professional lives.

See also: 50th Reunion, class of 1964

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Recorded on March 30, 1988 in Denton, TX.
Interviewed by Ashley Bruce

Suggested Chicago style citation: Winther, Ingrid Ellen. Interview. By Ashley Bruce. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. March 30, 1988.


Ingrid Ellen Winther was born in 1943 in Bloomington, Indiana. Her father was a professor of history at Indiana University, and her mother worked as an administrative assistant in the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research. In 1960 she attended Pembroke College, and graduated cum laude in 1964 with honors in her American Civics major. Upon graduation, she earned a full scholarship to the University of Rochester, where she earned an M.A. in education. She moved on to earn a Ph.D. in 1970 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in history, writing her dissertation on anti-communism in California.

From 1970 to 1973 Winther worked as assistant executive secretary of the Organization of American Historians, the biggest organization in the historical profession for United States history. A few years later, she earned a Fulbright scholarship to teach in Argentina. She held several teaching positions across the United States, including at Princeton, and the University of California San Diego. Winther also worked for the Regional Oral History Office at Bancroft Library at U.C. Berkeley, where she researched the career of actress, opera singer, and Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas.

In 1982 Ingrid moved to Texas with her four children to teach American history at Texas Woman’s University. In 2000, Ingrid retired from teaching to explore her passion for art. In 2005 she earned a B.A. in art from the College of Visual Arts and Design, University of North Texas, and from 2003-2007 she served as the Executive Director in the Visual Arts Society of Texas. Ingrid is now an MFA candidate in the Fiber Program at University of North Texas, and has her own studio, as well as several award-winning exhibitions.