Clara Elizabeth Goodale, class of 1939


Clara Elizabeth Goodale ‘39 is the niece of Nettie Goodale Murdock who was a member of Pembroke College’s first class in 1895. This interview captures the memories Murdock shared with her niece of her time at Pembroke.

In Part 1, Goodale explains that she and her sister, Barbara ’37, lived with Murdock while they attended Pembroke and subsequently memorized many of the memories she shared. Murdock recalled professors John Franklin Jameson, Henry Parker Manning, Walter Goodnow Everett, Charles E. Bennett, and James Irving Manatt. She also mentioned that women always sat in the front row of coeducational courses and never looked behind them. Goodale continues, adding that while Murdock pursued a master’s degree at Pembroke, she worked at the university library under Harry L. Koopman, received her master’s in 1899, and married John Murdock, Brown University class of 1896, in 1901, leaving her career.

Goodale summarizes Murdock’s post-graduation activities, including the Alumnae Association, the Pembroke Advisory Committee, the Rhode Island Society for the Collegiate Education of Women, and the Home for Aged Women. She notes that Brown University President Elisha Benjamin Andrews was idolized by Murdock and her husband, and that they were pleased with President Henry Wriston. Goodale laments that Murdock did not, or could not, pursue a career after her marriage, and speculates on the nature of male and female student relations and expectations.

Goodale turns to remembering her time at Pembroke. She recalls Dean Margaret Shove Morriss and identifies her favorite professor as Sinclair Wallace Armstrong. She notes taking coeducational courses in her junior and senior years, but also remembers a strong sentiment from Brown students to abolish Pembroke.

In Part 2, Goodale claims that Pembroke students were more interested in socializing than in education. She explains that attending college shortly after the Great Depression meant that jobs were still scarce and women were not priority contenders. She remembers participating in the International Relations Club and the Question Club, and briefly recalls physical education with Bessie Rudd, Sophomore Masque, May Day, and tea dances.

Goodale goes on to recount her life after graduation and attending secretarial school. She recalls being asked to serve as secretary to one of the deans at Pembroke and then as a writer for President Wriston’s speeches for eight years. She mentions leaving after her marriage in 1946 and concludes by explaining that secretarial school was a very dark time in her educational and professional careers but that she had no other options in that era.

Part 1

Part 2


Recorded on June 22, 1992
Interviewed by Barbara

Suggested Chicago style citation: Goodale, Clara Elizabeth. Interview. By Barbara. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. June 22, 1992.


Clara Elizabeth Goodale graduated from Pembroke College in 1939 with an A.B. in European History. She then attended a secretarial school in Worcester, Massachusetts, to learn typing and shorthand. She worked as Secretary to President Wriston for 7 years before marrying her husband – a Brown graduate. Coming from a family of several Pembrokers, Goodale was active as an alumna and was elected President of the Alumnae Association. She later became the first female alumna trustee of Brown’s Corporation in 1965. She passed away on December 10, 2010.