Katharine Curtis Pierce, class of 1962


On the occasion of her 50th Reunion, Katharine Curtis Pierce looks back on the highlights of her time at Pembroke College. She begins by explaining her expectations for Pembroke and the “finishing school for Episcopal girls” that she found in its stead. Pierce talks about dorm life, her dissatisfaction with that atmosphere, her time pursuing social work, as well as her work resettling refugees in Vietnam at the National Council of Churches.

Pierce then shifts into discussing the rediscovery of Malcom X’s recorded speech at Brown University. She delves into the tale of the tape’s inception, her research on Black Muslims, her involvement with the Brown Daily Herald, and the national press that she has encountered since the tape’s discovery. Pierce concludes the interview by expressing her gratitude to the student, Malcom Burnley, who discovered the tapes, “for the tremendous fun of looking back at all of these old papers and realizing that what was done so long ago, has become relevant.” Finally, she reflects on the changes she sees at Brown and her 50th reunion, overall.


Recorded on May 25, 2012 at the Pembroke Center, Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Bernicestine McLeod Bailey

Suggested Chicago style citation: Pierce, Katharine Curtis. Interview. By Bernicestine McLeod Bailey. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. May 25, 2012.


Katharine Curtis Pierce grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, and attended the coeducational Quaker George School. She graduated from Pembroke in 1962, with degrees in anthropology and sociology, as well as a deep interest in religion. After graduation, Pierce intermittently took on social work positions at Yale University and traveled to Vietnam to help resettle refugees. For the past twenty years, her career has taken a different turn, as she now works as a private consultant designing computer training programs.