Lillian S. Berberian, class of 1957


This interview concentrates on Lillian S. Berberian’s family life and her experiences as a city girl – a female day student who attended Pembroke College but did not live on campus, and she reminisces about life-long friendships with other city girls. She explains that her parents expected her to live at home while she attended Pembroke, and she describes her days on campus as “an outsider.”

With interviewer, Michael Gates ’91, Berberian discusses Brown University’s fraternities and the changes that have taken place to the campus which leads to a conversation about her Armenian parents, their history, language, and behavioral expectations, and similarly about the interviewer’s Polish family.

Berberian participated in International Club and volunteered at Nickerson House. She recounts her early teaching career, meeting her husband through the Armenian community, choosing to stay at home with her children, and returning to teaching in 1979 as a substitute. She concludes the interview by addressing the rigor of hercollege experience, minority students, and her daughter’s impression of Brown as she awaited acceptance.


Recorded on May 12, 1988 in Providence, RI
Interviewed by Michael Gates

Suggested Chicago style citation: Berberian, Lillian S. Interview. By Michael Gates. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. May 12, 1988.


Lillian S. Berberian was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1935 to Agavne and Misak Berberian, Armenian natives who were proprietors of several small neighborhood businesses, including a grocery store and theatre. Berberian’s mother had immigrated with her parents; her father’s died in a massacre in Turkey. She taught school after graduating from Pembroke College in 1957 with an A.B. in sociology. She met her husband, Peter Klanian, a University of Rhode Island graduate and insurance underwriter, through the Armenian community and church. They were married for 50 years until his death in January 2013. Berberian returned to teaching in 1979, refreshing her credentials at Rhode Island College and working in the Warwick, Rhode Island schools until 2005. She has four children and six grandchildren.