In this interview, Margaret Waterman discusses her decision to attend Pembroke College – known then as the Women’s College in Brown University – for one year, her transfer to Smith College, and her return to Pembroke for her senior year. She mentions medical care in the early twentieth century when she discusses her diagnoses of swollen glands and her father’s fatal battle with pneumonia. She speaks extensively of her time in athletics at Pembroke, primarily on the basketball and tennis teams. She also recalls interacting with men on campus and discusses mid-1920s fashion. Waterman frames much of her experiences on and off campus in terms of the Great Depression.
Listeners of this interview should be aware that Waterman makes antifeminist, anti-Semitic, and racist comments while discussing life and politics in the 1980s at the time of the interview. These comments occur about midway through the interview. The interview was conducted by a Brown University undergraduate student for a course titled “Studying the New Woman.”
Recorded on March 11, 1988 in the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Tracy Corrington
Suggested Chicago style citation: Waterman, Margaret. Interview. By Tracy Corrington. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. March 11, 1988.
Margaret Waterman was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the fifth of six children. Her father, Lewis Anthony Waterman, was a graduate of Brown University and her mother, Katherine Minerva Utter, was a graduate of Vassar College. Waterman graduated from the Lincoln School and attended Pembroke College for one year. She studied at Smith College for two years before completing her senior year at Pembroke and graduating cum laude with an A.B. in social science. She was a descendant of five Mayflower passengers as well as of Roger Williams and Rhode Island governors John Cranston, Samuel Cranston, Jeremiah Clarke, and Gabriel Bernon. She was a member of the Order of Founders and Patriots, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Red Bridge chapter of the Republican Women, the Chopin Club of Providence, and the Chaminade Club. Waterman married Harry Devoe, Sr. and had twin children Harry, class of 1955, and Margaret Devoe Gidley, class of 1956. She had four grandsons, three great-grandsons, and a great-great-grandson. She died on September 12, 2002 at the age of 97.