Jane E. Walsh begins Part 1 of her interview by summarizing her background including her mother’s career as Director of Standards and Planning for the Department of Employment Security in Rhode Island, and her father’s real estate business. She explains that she always knew she would go to college and Pembroke College’s close geographic proximity made it a good fit. Walsh talks about being a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke but did not live on campus, and the camaraderie commuter students developed.
Walsh describes her first day on the Pembroke campus as well as the accelerated trimester system instituted during World War II. She briefly mentions compulsory chapel and the ways that extracurricular activities changed during the war. In more detail, she defines the way the campus changed after the war’s end, specifically noting the increase in returning GIs. She also speaks about male and female student interactions as well as the separation of male and female student activities.
Also in Part 1, Walsh remembers professors Hans Rothfels, Sinclair Armstrong, Juan López-Morillas, Curt Ducasse, and Magel Wilder. She reminisces about commencement, May Day, and on-campus dances, and describes some of the dresses she wore to the dances. She denounces the Pembroke-Brown merger, asserting that women’s identities were lost, and goes on to explain her life after Pembroke, her job in the Office of the Attorney General of the United States on a project that was searching out lobbyists, and working at the Naval War College as a reference librarian.
In Part 2, only nine minutes long, Walsh describes the confidence that her Pembroke education gave her. She recalls living at home until she married, and the volunteer work she did after having four sons. Walsh concludes the interview by detailing the volunteer work she does in retirement.
Recorded on April 5, 1988 in the John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Julie Berman
Suggested Chicago style citation: Walsh, Jane E. Interview. By Julie Berman. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. April 5, 1988.
Jane E. Walsh grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and attended Classical High School. Her mother was director of standards and planning for the Department of Employment Security in Rhode Island, and her father worked in the real estate business. She attended Pembroke College in an accelerated program available during World War II, beginning in January 1944 and graduating June 1947. Besides majoring in history, Walsh also worked for the war effort and was involved in the Newman Club during her time at Pembroke.
After her graduation, Walsh worked in the Office of the Attorney General of the United States. After completing a training course to become a librarian, she worked in the Providence Public Library and then at the Newport Naval War College as a reference librarian. In 1952, she married her husband, with whom she had four sons. After having children, Walsh was heavily involved with volunteer work. She worked in several organizations, including the PTA, Cub Scouts, and the Women’s Intergroup Conference, which worked for racial harmony and to pass a fair housing law in Rhode Island. Walsh was president of several additional volunteer organizations, including the Bannister House, a nonprofit nursing home, the Scituate Art Festival, and the Trustees of the North Scituate Public Library.
Walsh remained active within the Pembroke community throughout her career, and was both president of the Pembroke Alumnae Association and chairman of the Pembroke Seminars. At the time of her 1988 interview, she held a position as chairman of the Scituate Democratic Town Committee.