Pembroke Center

Documenting the History of Women at Brown

The Friends of the Pembroke Center play an active role in preserving and celebrating the history of Brown women by sponsoring publications and research tools.

The Friends of the Pembroke Center support the center in many ways, including developing online research tools for the study of women's history at Brown. Tools and publications brought to life by the Friends include the digital archives of the Pembroke Record, the newspaper published by Pembroke College students; publications by former Pembroke Center directors Joan Wallach Scott and Elizabeth Weed; and archival exhibits displayed in Pembroke Hall.

From 1922 to 1970, the Pembroke Record documented and commented upon life at Pembroke College in Brown University. Although the Pembroke Record ceased publishing decades ago, it has remained a valuable archival resource and an irreplaceable part of the history of women at Brown University. Unfortunately, the physical, bound copies of the Pembroke Record are deteriorating with age and extensive use. The Pembroke Center Associates undertook this effort, in partnership with the Brown University Library, to digitize the entire run of the Pembroke RecordWe are pleased to make it digitally accessible to scholars and alumnae/i and thank the support of our members for making this project possible.

Photo of Louise Lamphere and her colleagues

An assistant professor of anthropology and the only woman in her department when she was hired in 1968, Louise Lamphere was denied tenure in 1974. The Department of Anthropology  claimed that her scholarship was theoretically weak. Lamphere claimed she was the victim of sex discrimination and argued that the small number of women on the Brown faculty was evidence of a larger pattern of discrimination. After unsuccessfully pursuing an internal appeals process, on May 10, 1975 Lamphere brought suit in U.S. District Court.

Under the leadership of a new President, Howard Swearer, the University settled the case before trial, entering in September 1977 into an historic consent decree designed "to achieve on behalf of women full representativeness with respect to faculty employment at Brown." Brown agreed to set up an Affirmative Action Monitoring Committee charged with overseeing the processes departments used to hire, tenure, and promote faculty to be sure they were fair; evaluating searches to make sure they were inclusive; and monitoring progress toward full representation of women on the faculty. The Affirmative Action Monitoring Committee was in existence from 1978 to 1992 when by mutual consent the consent decree was vacated. During this period the proportion of women on the Brown faculty shot up. 

Here is a timeline of the case and here is an online exhibit that explores the case in greater detail.

In this piece, Elizabeth Weed, director of the Pembroke Center from 2000-2010, offers her perspective on the Pembroke Center's founding in 1981, and about the intellectual and political transformations that took place between the late 1960s and 1990s that profoundly changed American universities and colleges.

Included in this excerpt are the comments of Joan Wallach Scott, founding director of the Pembroke Center, on the the dedication of the Christine Dunlap Farnham Archives on October 10, 1986.

When Pembroke Hall, first dedicated in 1897, was rededicated in October 2008, the Friends of the Pembroke Center (formerly known as the Pembroke Center Associates) published a history of the funding of the building and of women's education at Brown.

This program is a reproduction of the original used in dedicating Pembroke Hall in 1897, with an address from Sarah Doyle.

This timeline, running from 1830 to 2005, marks notable moments in the history of women at Brown University.

This timeline, running from 1897 to 2012, traces key moments in the history of women's athletics at Brown.