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Interview #466: Clarenbach, Kathryn F. (September, 2009)

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Third Interview Session (September 29, 1987): Tape 2-3

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00:00:10

KC enrolled in UW in 1937.  Since two of her brothers were planning to attend UW, her mother moved to Madison and established an apartment. Her father remained in the house in Sparta.

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00:04:19

KC joined the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, her brother Gordon the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Though they were ambivalent about this move, they needed a place to stay. She made many good friends at the sorority. She was corresponding secretary of the sorority her junior year, and president her senior year. KC was very active in the International Club, chaired the University Peace Federation for four years, and was vice-president of the YWCA.  She had many friends who were not traditional Greek WASPs.

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00:06:41

KC and some of her sorority sisters became politicized through conversations at the dinner table. Table conversation at the sorority was so boring and superficial that she and some of her friends set out to improve it. One of her friends, Ruth Thompson, came from a very politically aware family.

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00:09:38

Initially, KC did not know what her major would be. In an attempt to sample different subjects, she deliberately avoided courses that were easy for her in high school.

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00:13:57

KC received many B+s because of her lack of experience with final exams. She felt conspicuous at the UW—“country” and “overgrown.” Her sorority sisters were better off financially. Her parents paid for tuition, room and board, and season tickets to athletic events and theater concerts at the Union Theater. [Note: there is a brief pause from 00:16:25 to 00:16:32 as cassette tape 2 ends and tape 3 begins.]

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00:16:32

KC continues to discuss her experiences at the UW. She encountered new ideas. She was required to study for the first time, a task she undertook in the Paul Bunyan Room in the Union because women were not allowed in the Rathskeller, a fact that irked her. In earlier days, there was a special back door for women to enter the Union building.

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00:18:38

KC usually found another good student in her classes with whom she could study. She characterizes the classroom situation as “rather nice.” She talks about her study partners in a geography course, among them a Supreme Court justice, a local lawyer, and a progressive left-winger who taught her much about politics and persuaded her to join the University Peace Federation (UPF), of which she was elected president. While in the UPF, KC got funding from President Clarence Dykstra to get Harold Laske to address the UW student body.

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00:22:30

KC spent her free time in extracurricular activities. Every year a staff member at the YWCA tapped five promising freshmen leaders and groomed them. KC and Bob Lampman were among the chosen five from their class.

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00:24:45

KC spent some time working with an open housing committee. The black actor Paul Robson was not allowed in hotels in Madison when he gave a performance in Othello. KC's friends in Madison were drawn from many different groups: intellectually-active graduates and undergraduates, sorority sisters, the international club membership, and left-wing progressive, peace and housing types.

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00:29:20

KC took many social science courses. She declared political science her major because it had the fewest required courses of all the subjects in which she was interested.

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00:36:36

KC was not conscious of sex discrimination. Most of her professors were male. She had one female professor, Helen Clarke, a social work professor, whom she discusses. There were about a half a dozen female professors on campus, including Gladys Borchers and Helen C. White. Louise Troxell was the Dean of Women.

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00:37:04

After Pearl Harbor, there were more women than men on campus.

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00:38:50

Since political science had the fewest requirements, it gave KC more of an opportunity to take other courses, such as Clarke's social work class on group work theory and practice. Women faculty were paid less than male faculty. This was one of the first problems tackled by the Faculty Women's Association, which KC helped organize.

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00:42:40

KC continues talking about her courses and instructors. She enjoyed English with Warner Taylor, whose course helped her to think about things in an analytic way.

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00:46:46

KC did not plan in advance to go on for graduate work. She paid for her first year in graduate school through a $400 cash reward from the political science department and by working as a house fellow in Elizabeth Waters Hall. She discusses her job as house fellow and dorm rules. Female students had “hours,” but male students did not.

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00:52:23

There was a separate Women's Self-Government Association (WSGA) in existence to make rules specifically for women, to encourage mature behavior, and to protect the interests of women living off-campus and give them a voice in student government. Some of KC's friends were involved in the WSGA.

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00:54:29

The house fellows met with a female psychiatrist from the Medical School, Annette Washburn, who educated them as to what types of student behaviors merited analysis by an expert. She had progressive views about sexuality.

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00:55:55

There was not a problem with violence against women on campus. Public transportation was adequate; bicycles were not a common means of transportation.

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00:57:00

End of interview session 3

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