Penelope Claire Hartland, class of 1940


Penelope Claire Hartland begins this interview by focusing on her education. She describes her academic achievements at Pembroke College, as well as the significance of being the only Pembroke student to concentrate in economics. She details her educational and social experiences at both Pembroke and Radcliffe, where she received her Ph.D. The interview then transitions to Hartland’s career, which began with a teaching appointment in Brown’s Department of Economics. She describes her interview with Brown University President Henry Wriston. Hartland later worked as a researcher and analyst at the CIA and the Council of Economic Advisers. In 1963 she was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate as Commissioner of the Tariff Commission (now the International Trade Commission), the first woman to serve as a Commissioner and one of the few women in high positions in government at the time. Hartland goes on to discuss serving as the Chair of President Lyndon Johnson’s group on women’s issues, and her involvement on the Brown University Corporation. Throughout this interview, she notes the sexism she faced in various academic and professional situations.

See also: The Penelope Hartland-Thunberg Papers which are part of the Christine Dunlap Farnham Archive at the John Hay Library, Ms. 2013.012. Her biographical file at the John Hay Library also includes clippings from the New York Times and other newspapers.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Recorded on September 7, 1996
Interviewed by Nancy L. Buc

Suggested Chicago style citation: Hartland, Penelope Claire. Interview. By Nancy L. Buc. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. September 7, 1996.


Penelope Claire Hartland was born on June 17, 1918 in Fiona, Massachusetts and graduated from Pembroke College in 1940. As a student in Pembroke College, she studied Economics, served as President of the Student Government Association, and was Editor of the school newspaper, The Pembroke Record. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in economics from Radcliffe. In 1946, she returned to Brown as one of the school’s first female professors, but left the University after learning that she would not be promoted to associate professor. Hartland went on to a career in the Federal government, culminating in a Presidential appointment to the Tariff Commission.