Cynthia Burdick, class of 1965


Cynthia Burdick grew up on a farm in Wilmington, Delaware and attended Westover boarding school in Connecticut. After graduation, she went to Bryn Mawr College for a year and half, during which she fell in love and got married. She then transferred to Pembroke College to be closer to her husband, who was working at a law firm in Providence, Rhode Island. Burdick notes the absence of a peer-oriented social life while at Pembroke, as she wasn’t living in dorms or spending her free time with fellow students, and the only students she came to know where her fellow teammates on the field hockey team. She describes her husband’s refusal to allow her college life to interfere with his life as an adult. After graduation Burdick had two kids and moved around Providence, focusing on raising her children.

Speaking to her middle-aged life and her time going through a divorce, Burdick recalls her discontent upon her realization that she had come to fit the stereotype of a good housewife. She tells of her parents’ reluctance to regiment her life and deny her the right to get married, as their strict rules had led her brother to drop out of Yale and cease communication for a period, but makes a point that she is glad her daughter will have opportunities that she didn’t, as a non-married college student. An advocate for single sex education, she notes her dismay with the Pembroke-Brown merger, explaining her feelings that single-sex education allows social life and academics to remain distinct. She closes the interview reiterating the problems of marrying at a young age, and noting her son’s and daughter’s experiences with dating.


Recorded on March 16, 1988
Interviewed by Samantha Rai

Suggested Chicago style citation: Burdick, Cynthia. Interview. By Samantha Rai. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. March 16, 1988.


Cynthia Burdick received her A.B. in history from Pembroke College in 1965 after transferring from Bryn Mawr College. She began volunteer work at the Women and Infants Hospital and the Meeting Street School, and subsequently became Director of Development at the Lincoln School. She has served on the boards at the Lincoln, Gordon and Providence Country Day schools, Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island, Brown Medical School, the Providence Athenaeum, and the Audubon Society. Burdick has two children.