Eleanor Francis Sarle, class of 1928


In this interview, conducted sixty years after her graduation, Eleanor Francis Sarle, class of 1928, explains that there was never any question that she would become a school teacher and receive her education at Brown University – known then as the Women’s College at Brown University – because her father, three uncles, and cousins had all graduated from Brown. She also explains that after taking courses in education and biology she found her niche in sociology. She describes feeling disconnected from the college experience because she was a “City Girl” – a female day student who attended the Women’s College but did not live on campus. Despite living off campus, Sarle reminisces about being a guard in the Sophomore Masque, participating in Ivy Day, and graduating on Commencement Day. She also recalls compulsory Chapel and rules about smoking and proper dress.

Sarle vividly remembers almost never interacting with male Brown students and feeling “second to the men.” She identifies Professor Phelps and Harold Bucklin as having the most influence on her education and providing the educational and career guidance for women that the college lacked. Sarle also recalls Dean Margaret Shove Morriss encouraging the women to get their degrees because of the significance it would have on their futures.

She goes on to describe her life after graduation including her graduate work in education at Brown, which was left incomplete, and her graduate work in social work at Columbia University in the 1940s. Sarle notes that she was fortunate to be able to marry and have a child and still complete graduate work and get a job. Though she never uses the term “feminist” to describe herself, Sarle discusses how she was pleased when Pembroke merged with Brown, hoping that this would encourage gender equality. During the interview—which was recorded in 1988—Sarle also urges women at Brown to fight for equality on campus.

Part 1

Part 2


Recorded on March 11, 1988 in East Greenwich, RI
Interviewed by Julia J. Hyun

Suggested Chicago style citation: Sarle, Eleanor Francis. Interview. By Julia J. Hyun. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. March 11, 1988.


Eleanor Francis Sarle was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1912 and attended both Providence High School and Providence Technical High School. She began studying at the Women’s College at Brown University at the age of 16 and graduated in 1928 with an A.B. in biology. She went on to obtain a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. She taught at Cranston and Barrington High Schools and then became a social worker. She married Ralph Briggs and the two and had one daughter, Carolyn. Sarle died on July 8, 2006.