In Part 1 of this interview, Gloria E. Del Papa begins by describing her relationship to her father, an immigrant cement business owner, her role as a “typical Italian daughter,” and how her father insisted she go to Pembroke College. When discussing her life at Pembroke, she speaks about her academic record, the discovery of her passion for English after an initial focus on biology, her dedication to her studies and the many student activities in which she was involved. The people who influenced her include Dean Margaret Shove Morriss, Dean Nancy Duke Lewis, English Professors Israel James Kapstein, and Bessie Rudd, the gym teacher.
In Part 2, Del Papa shares her experience attending school during wartime and how it was not a “normal” or desirable experience. She discusses a Japanese student whose parents were in an internment camp, the pressure “V-12” men had to pass their classes in order to remain in the Navy’s college officer training program. While the men were away at war, women started to have all their classes on the Brown campus and were able to go to the Blue Room without a date. She mentions the Honor Code and cheating, and elaborates on what it meant to be a woman in the 1940s. Building on that, Del Papa discusses posture pictures – a practice that included taking photos of nude students ostensibly as part of a eugenics project assessing social hierarchy. She also remembers going to the Pembroke Library and the influence of the librarian, as well as taking Biology class with Walter Wilson.
Recorded on December 2, 1985 in Pawtucket, RI
Interviewed by Carol Fenimore
Suggested Chicago style citation: Del Papa, Gloria E. Interview. By Carol Fenimore. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. December 2, 1985.
Gloria E. Del Papa was born on June 3, 1925, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Graduating as Valedictorian of her high school class, Del Papa studied English at Pembroke College where she would finish as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Soon after, she received her Masters degree in education before pursuing a career as a teacher. She taught in the Pawtucket school system for 38 years saying she loved teaching and thought it was what she was destined to do. She was a member of the Pembroke College Club of Providence and spent time volunteering at Amos House, Pawtucket Elementary School, and St. Teresa’s Church. She passed away on December 11, 2013.