Doris Madeline Hopkins, class of 1928


In Part 1 of this interview, Doris Madeline Hopkins begins by discussing her early education and family life in Rhode Island. She talks about the expectations for “nice girls” at Pembroke College in the 1920s, about the curriculum, 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. Hopkins talks about reading for classes and getting books from the public library when they were unavailable elsewhere. She also mentions her friendship with Alice Elizabeth O’Connor. Hopkins discusses working as a woman, the restriction that only single women could work, and losing her job when she married. She talks about playing fist ball, hockey and basketball in high school and at Pembroke.

In Part 2, Hopkins begins by talking about her upbringing as opposed to how she raised her children. She talks about her daughters education and her role in their lives, including how one daughter went to Brown and was the first woman to earn her degree in aeronautics from Brown. She talks about Hoover and Roosevelt, particularly the influence of Eleanor Roosevelt. She also discusses her focus on local politics, mentioning such issues as abortion, gun laws and capital punishment.

Part 3 is alternately audible and inaudible, yet Hopkins discusses academics and administration at Brown, and student life at Brown. She also mentions the Brown/Pembroke merger, and its effects on the students.

Part 4 begins with Hopkins discussing the Ivy Dance, and the social life of women at Pembroke and men at Brown. She talks about the strict physical education requirements at both schools, various aspects of the Pembroke/Brown merger, and how students felt about it before and afterwards. She talks about social life including drinking and smoking, and about the policy that female students needed to get permission from the Dean before they could marry, a policy active into the 60s. Hopkins concludes by discussing student perception of co-education.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Suggested Chicago style citation: Hopkins, Doris Madeline. Interview. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University.


Doris Madeline Hopkins was born in Foster, Rhode Island to a family whose ancestors were known to have come to America on the Mayflower. For much of her early life Hopkins lived on a farm with her five brothers and their parents before moving to the city and attending Classical High School. Since much of Pembroke’s rigor was emulated at Classical, Hopkins was not taken aback by the college course load as many of her peers were. After graduating from Pembroke College with a history degree in 1928, she accepted a teaching job in Warwick to stay close to her fiancé. Upon having two daughters, Hopkins got increasingly involved with the Girl Scouts and eventually held several national leadership positions before becoming a staff member at Pembroke Alumnae Association.