Virginia Belle Macmillan, class of 1938


Virginia Belle Macmillan begins Part 1 of her interview by describing her childhood and family in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She recalls her years at Pembroke College, in particular her role on the Pembroke Record staff, and as President of the Student Government Association. She also discusses life as a commuter student, attending college during the Depression, and interactions with Brown faculty members. Macmillan shared her memories of various student activities including formal dances, Ivy Day, and Scut Week. She also discusses working at the John Hay Library after college, her job as a business reference librarian at the Providence Public Library, marriage, motherhood, and returning to full time work.

In Part 2, Macmillan briefly discusses her desire to live on campus while at Pembroke, and the pleasant atmosphere of the dorms. She also discusses the changing campus attitudes that she saw while working at Brown during the 1960s, the rise of coeducation, and the benefits of having a women’s center at Brown today.

Part 1

Part 2


Recorded on November 25, 1982
Interviewed by Elizabeth Conover

Suggested Chicago style citation: Macmillan, Virginia Belle. Interview. By Elizabeth Conover. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. November 25, 1982.


Virginia Belle Macmillan was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1916. While a student at Pembroke College, she served as President of the Student Government Association and became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Macmillan earned an A.B. in Latin from Brown in 1938, summa cum laude. She pursued a long career as an archivist, curator, and librarian, working first as a business and reference librarian at the Providence Public Library and later as the long-time curator of the Abraham Lincoln Collection at the John Hay Library. After retiring in the 1980s, Macmillan volunteered at the Providence Athenaeum before relocating to New Hampshire.