Oral history


During the peak years of the Second World War it was a common trend that women did not apply to graduate schools even though the majority of the women attended school because they wanted to obtain a career. As explained by Ruth Murphy in her interview, "back then girls didn't apply like now", despite the fact that she, like other women on the Dickinson campus, eagerly wanted to attend gradute or law school after graduation.

Date: Spring 1990

As explained in her interview, Kathleen Briner Meals class of '44 became the second editor-in-chief of the Dickinsonian. At the time this position which carried the title "Co-ed", partly because of the  lack of men around, was a title that was appointed by the school's administration.

Date: November 22, 1989

Biology Professor Barbara McDonald, who began to work in Dickinson during the Fall of 1956, in her interview reiterated that she was a member of the AAUP as well as an active member of the reppraisal committee. The American Association of University Professors who upholds academic freedom and tenure for College or University professors, played a pivotal role in the "Le Vallee Affair" during the Spring of 1956.

Date: April 11, 1989

As explained in her interview, Professor Barbara McDonald, who began teaching at Dickinson during the Fall of 1956, described the atmosphere of the campus post the "La Vallee Affair" as being one of widespread conflicting feelings. At the time, being one of the few female faculty members at Dickinson, Professor McDonald did not become conscious of the predominance of men for "it just seemed to be the way it was." Even though there were a large amount of female students enrolled in general biology classes "there were very few women on the faculty."

Date: April 11, 1990

While the majority of the male population lived in fraternity houses on and off campus, their female counterparts resided in primarily off-campus establishements like Metzger Hall, which were located some blocks away from Dickinson. Due to the lack of housing and the influx of female students, the College began to house its female students in places such as Old West. Such was the case that was described by Sarah Andrews in her interview. Also, at the time there was no Sorority Housing in which they could have meetings and hold social events like the fraternities did. 

Date: April 11, 1990

According to Sara Andrews as explained in her interview, the Metzger Hall council was the established governing body for Metzger House. The council met on a regular basis as a means to address and simultaenously try to resolve any complaints presented by the student body. Dean Meredith often times reached the council in order to receive feedback or help in implementing disciplinatory regulations.

Date: April 11, 1990

Frances Vuilleumier (Class of 1924) reports in an interview that Dickinson had four sororities: Pi Phi, Chi Omega, Phi Mu, and Zeta Tua Alpha. She characterizes Pi Phi as the oldest and strongest sorority as well as the only sorority that "survived." According to Vuilleumier, "it was considered quite a good thing to be a Pi [Phi]," and daughters of faculty members often joined Pi Phi. Chi Omega, explains Vuilleumier, was not as old as Pi Phi. Vuilleumier claims that its members were "very social." Vuilleumier's sorority, Phi Mu, was a newer sorority and was always academic.

Date: April 21, 1994
Better Students?

Frances Vuilleumier (Class of 1924) claims in an interview that the college viewed men and women equally in the 1920s. She believes faculty like female students because they performed better in the classroom than their male colleagues. Frances recalls completing the same academic work as male students did.

Date: April 21, 1994

As World War Two reached its peak in the years following the early 1940's, as Margaret MacGregor recollected in her interview, many Dickinson students supported the war effort by taking time off of school to work in the factories. In the years 1942 and 1943 Margaret recalled that she stayed at home to work in the York Safe and Lock company as a means to manifest her patriotism and save money (York Safe and Lock had defense contracts). She returned to Dickinson in 1945 alongside the other Dickinson students who had gone off to join the war effort overseas.

Date: November 18, 1989
Faculty Wife

Frances Vuilleumier (Class of 1924) describes in an interview how she met her husband, Ernest Albert Vuilleumier, in her chemistry class. The current dean placed her in the class, and according to Frances, "being new, I required a good deal of assistance, you know, so somehow or other..." Professor Vuilleumier, who chaperoned dances, sent a note to Frances inviting her to a fraternity dance. Frances explains that it was acceptable for female students to date professor as "it had happened before." Previously, President James Henry Morgan married a student.

Date: April 21, 1994