Marjorie Alice Jones speaks as a member of the silent generation and considers the busy, active life she’s lead despite the fact that nobody expected anything from the women of her generation. She begins Part 1 of her interview by discussing her family background and reasons for attending Pembroke College. She describes her experience as a transfer student and speaks on professors and academics, considering the closed attitude towards women in academia. Jones denounces the gender rules at Pembroke, as well as both the lack of women role models and professors and the lack of career support for Pembroke students: “there were all these wonderful women educated to do everything. And they did nothing. They were able to do nothing.” Additionally, Jones speaks on the discrimination she faced when she did try to gain employment.
In Part 2, Jones discusses her tremendous activism in the women’s movement, civil rights movement, and anti-war movement, as well as her work and activism in the healthcare system. She considers the Pembroke-Brown merger, vocalizing the tremendous sense of loss that she felt in that Pembroke lost the opportunity to engage in special advocacy for women. She blames the Pembroke administration for the merger, suggesting that if Pembroke was an aggressive administration instead of a failing, unresponsive one, then Pembroke could have been a space for the women’s movement. She moves on to describe her work in the Rhode Island hospitals during the AIDS crisis and the role of women in the healthcare system, which she describes as responsible but powerless. Jones ends her 1988 interview by considering the psychological barriers to women’s liberation in the late ’80s, reasoning that the next work that needs to be done is to enfranchise sexual minorities.
Recorded on April 16, 1988 in the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Julia Hyun
Suggested Chicago style citation: Jones, Marjorie Alice. Interview. By Julia Hyun. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. April 16, 1988.
Marjorie Alice Jones was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1933 and attended high school in Port Chester, New York before entering Pembroke College. While a student, she wrote a regular column for the Pembroke Record called “Off the Record.”
Jones concentrated in Biology at Pembroke, and later received graduate degrees in nursing from Rhode Island College (RIC) and the University of Rhode Island. In the late 1960s and 1970s, she worked as a nursing instructor at RIC and Roger Williams College. In 1977, she began working for the Veteran’s Administration, specializing in infection control. She was active in the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Women’s Political Caucus, and Rhode Island Project AIDS. Jones gave many presentations to campus and community groups about HIV-AIDS in the 1980s. She was married to RIC professor Carl Edward Sternberg (1928-2015), with whom she had two sons, Christopher and Kurt.