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

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Seventh Interview Session (November 3, 1987): Tape 7

Listen to Seventh Interview Session (November 3, 1987): Tape 7

00:10

In 1960, the Clarenbachs left Staten Island for Wisconsin. Even though KC's husband had an excellent job, they both wanted to leave New York's rat race. Madison was closer to where they had both grown up and had the right political environment. KC tells how they found a house.

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06:35

KC describes the move in more detail. The neighbors in Madison made them feel welcome. She chronicles Hank's efforts to find a career, including work in the real estate company of Pat Lucey, until Hank opened his own real estate office.

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14:44

KC returned to teaching in the fall of 1961; she explains how Edgewood College persuaded her to take a job. She loved teaching at Edgewood and describes her experiences in more detail.

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20:34

KC tells how she came to teach an evening course in American Government at the University Extension during the same semester she was teaching at Edgewood. She describes the students and tells some stories about the class itself.

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26:32

KC describes her experience as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Alverno College and tells how she got elected. As chair, she made one of her primary contributions to the women's movement when she got a woman to take over the college's presidency.

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32:36

KC talks about the positive impact that an all-women's college can have on its students. She explains why she believes that women's institutions should not have to admit men.

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36:11

Alverno is still a women's college; it is an acknowledged and admittedly feminist institution. KC helped develop training sessions to raise the consciousness of the faculty in the early days of feminism. She describes some of the practices that keep the quality of education there high, and explains why she slightly envied the nuns who taught there. Returning briefly to her students at Edgewood, KC says they were not spectacular.

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40:02

Soon after she moved to Madison, KC did at-home clerical work with neighborhood women. This job led her to become a proofreader/editor for Shirley Abramson, who was compiling the constitution of every state into one volume. The second-class position of women in these constitutions was noticeable to KC.

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44:42

KC stopped teaching at Edgewood because she had begun heading UW's continuing education project for mature woman.

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45:25

After the local paper printed an article on the “gang” of working women that KC was a part of, some people from UW Extension asked her to help devise a continuing education program for women. Though KC did not respond to this initial offer, she eventually told Martha Peterson about it. That summer KC worked as an intern in Peterson's office, where they tried to decide on a University program for women.

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48:44

The whole idea of continuing education seemed absolutely natural to KC. When Peterson's office conducted a survey of older women in the Madison area to see if there was any interest in a continuing education program, they were flooded with requests from women who wanted to be interviewed. KC lists some of the women who were working in Peterson's office at the time.

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51:25

Because they couldn't handle the number of interview requests, Peterson' office decided to host a conference for all the women who returned the questionnaires. UW President Fred Harrington gave them money for it and suggested they hire someone to work on it full-time.

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54:17

Once the conference was over, Peterson asked KC to develop a plan for the University Extension. KC was worried about finding child care, but her husband insisted she take the job. He scheduled his real estate work so that he could be home when the children returned from school. KC describes how they divided up tasks and calls their marriage a “partnership.”

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58:52

Once KC accepted the job for Extension, she got into the bad habit of bringing work home. Peterson was a flexible employer. KC and Ruth Doyle were hired as an experiment in offering flexible hours to married women with children. It worked out well. Though Peterson insisted her staff take time off, she was a firm taskmaster. KC illustrates this point by describing Peterson's reaction when KC failed to meet a deadline.

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1:02:00

Once the Extension program got started, KC worked full-time interviewing women who were thinking about making major life changes. She urged women to think through the range of skills and interests they had and to create a job from that. She describes some of the adjustment she and her family had to make to accommodate her work. Her neighbors helped with child care because they believed she was doing work for women.

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1:06:56

KC often encountered husbands who did not appreciate her efforts to find jobs for their wives. Some of the women were looked on as freaks. The men who were upset by the continuing education program weren't all male chauvinists or oppressors. KC explains how she tried to get them to take pride in their wives' work.

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1:10:22

KC saw some dramatic changes in the women she worked with. She taught an evening class for women in collaboration with Peterson and her staff. KC describes the speakers they brought in and the assignments they gave to the students. There were 150 women from all over the state enrolled the first year. KC still hears from women whose lives were changed by that course.

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1:14:09

KC gives examples of some dramatic changes she saw in women in continuing education.

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1:17:11

MA comments that KC was empowering women at a time when most parts of society were telling them they should be at home. KC points out this was happening at other institutions, like Minnesota, Sarah Lawrence and Rutgers.

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1:18:28

The second conference organized by Peterson's office was on professional opportunities for women. Esther Peterson, the director of the Women's Bureau of the Labor Department, was the keynote speaker.

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1:19:26

End of interview session 7

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