Ruth Lilian Wade, class of 1933


In this interview, Ruth Lilian Wade begins by sharing her biographical and family background. She talks about her mother who was a supporter of female suffrage and determined that her daughter should attend Pembroke College. In Part 1, Wade also describes her experience at as a “city girl” from Central Falls and the attitudes of her classmates. She discusses the limited job opportunities for women during the Great Depression and taking courses at the Rhode Island College of Education. She specifically explains her own career path, which included jobs teaching English and Americanization classes, teaching public school in Central Falls, Rhode Island, and eventually working as head librarian at Quonset Naval Air Base. Part 1 also includes stories about Wade’s activities with the French Club, relationships between freshmen and upperclassmen, and the attitudes that Brown men held about Pembrokers.

In Part 2, Wade discusses the benefits of attending a coordinate college and remembers aspects of her academic and social life at Pembroke, including her public speaking class with Miss Jinks, mandatory physical education, the dress code, and her position as class secretary. She describes the atmosphere at Pembroke during the Depression and how hard economic times altered the expectations of marriage for both male and female students.

Part 1

Part 2


Recorded on November 18, 1982 in the Maddock Alumni Center, Brown University, Providence RI
Interviewed by Jennifer S. Smith

Suggested Chicago style citation: Wade, Ruth Lilian. Interview. By Jennifer S. Smith. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. November 18, 1982.


Ruth Lilian Wade was born in Central Falls, Rhode Island on April 22, 1913 to John T. and Susanna McDowell Wade. She graduated from Pembroke College in 1933 Phi Beta Kappa and earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Simmons College. During World War II, she was head librarian at the U.S. Naval Air Facilities under the Quonset Command. An extremely active alumna, she was granted the Brown Bear award in 1980. Wade married Earl F. Cerjanec ’43, and had two sons, Nicholas Wade Cerjanec ’71 and Derek McDowell Cerjanec ’73. She died November 3, 1989.