Beatrice Wattman, class of 1935


Beatrice “Bea” Wattman was the daughter of a jeweler who immigrated from Moldavia in 1895 at age 18, and a mother who came from Austria as a young child. Raised in Providence along with two younger brothers, she attended Hope High School, where her classes in the “Classical” curriculum track were taught by several Brown alumnae. This interview touches on many subjects relating to her family, education, and work.

As a local “city girl,” Wattman walked or took the trolley to Pembroke College each day, and while she did not participate in the formal extracurricular activities that interested residential students, she fondly recalls the hours she spent playing bridge at West House with the other commuters. The account she gives of her time as a student is both rich and entertaining. Wattman spent very little time in the library, since “that third floor was too high,” and chose to major in Sociology because as a new department, it required the fewest courses and scheduled no classes before 10:00 a.m. or on Saturdays. She also comments on several of the required activities for female students at Pembroke College including posture pictures, physical education, swimming requirements, Human Biology, and mandatory chapel, which was held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At the Tuesday religious services, Wattman and other Jewish students would listen, but refrained from singing. On Thursdays, she remembers visits from pianist Martha Baird, who later married John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Discussing her life beyond college, Wattman insists on the importance of her self-taught ability to type. With typing, as with bridge, watching and listening were her key modes of instruction. She ends the interview by discussing the education she, her daughter, and her grandson all received from Brown and the school’s reputation among local Rhode Islanders.


Recorded in Providence, RI
Interviewed by Jane Lancaster

Suggested Chicago style citation: Wattman, Beatrice. Interview. By Jane Lancaster. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University.


Beatrice Wattman was a Providence native who graduated from Brown in 1935 with an A.B. in Sociology. Her family includes three generations of Brown alumnae/i: her late brother Edwin “Bunty” Wattman ’45, late sister-in-law Frances Singer Wattman ’39, daugher Caryl-Ann Miller Nieforth ’59, niece Selina Winicour Barron ’57, and grandson Andrew Lewis Feldman ’86, MD’91.

After attending Pembroke College, Wattman married Meyer S. Miller in 1936 and spent several years as a social worker and bookkeeper in the late 1930s before leaving the workforce to raise her two children, Caryl-Ann and Donald. After her son graduated from college, Wattman returned to school to earn a Master’s degree in Library Science from URI in 1968. She worked as Librarian and Media Specialist at Nathan Bishop Middle School in Providence for fifteen years. She is a Life Master in competitive bridge and has volunteered at several community organizations. She passed away on January 30, 2014 at age 100.