Eleanor Gilbert


Eleanor Gilbert

37 minutes
Helen Ancona Bergeson
Interview/Event Date: 
1978 August 2
Biographical note: 

Eleanor Garbutt Gilbert (1898-1984) was a member of the UR Class of 1919. After graduation she lived for a time in France. She married Donald W. Gilbert UR1921 on August 19, 1922 in Garbutt, NY. Donald Gilbert had a long and distinguished career at the University beginning in 1922 when he began as an assistant in Economics. He became the first President of the Faculty Club in 1924 and was appointed first director of the new Canadian Studies program in 1953. He was best known for his positions as Provost and Vice-President for development, which he held from 1948 until his death in 1957. During this time, Mrs. Gilbert enjoyed her important role as his wife. They had two daughters: Emily and Virginia. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Gilbert returned to teaching, this time at the International Christian University in Japan. She continued this on a part time basis for several years. Mrs. Gilbert passed away in 1984.

Please note:

The views expressed in the recordings and transcripts on this website are those of the speakers, and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the University of Rochester.
All rights reserved. Copyright 2019.

HB: This is a tape recording for the Friends of the University Libraries, uh, for the Oral History Project. And I’m visiting with Eleanor Garbutt Gilbert of the Class of 1919 in her home at Valley Manor on East Avenue in Rochester, New York. And this is Wednesday – Thursday, August 2, 1978. And I appreciate very much your letting me come into your home and visit about your reminiscences of your student days at the University. You lived in Scottsville.[1]

EG: Garbutt.[2]

HB: And Garbutt. Did you go to Scottsville High School?

EG: Yes.

HB: Tell me about your early days in high school and what led you to come to the University.

EG: Well, I came to the University because my mother had always assumed that I would come to college so I didn’t think of anything else except coming to college, and, uh, we had three miles to go to high school and we, uh, drove a horse before we had the cars, and, uh, well, we had a wonderful time there and it was a very good education; we had a good superintendent and, um, my brother and sister, however, came to West High[3] because, uh, the school wasn’t so good at that time. And, um, they came by train and trains ran every few minutes, it seems to me, between Rochester and Garbutt, and, um, there were – well, it took about twenty minutes, is all.

HB: Were you the oldest in your family?

EG: No, I was third. Third of four[4].

HB: Third of four.

EG: Mmm-hmm.

HB: So, um, your older brother and sister came to West High before you?

EG: No. No, my, uh, older sister and my young brother.

HB: I see.

EG: Mmm-hmm.

HB: And, um, was this the expectation of the family that all the children would go on to college?

EG: Yes.

HB: What was your father’s business?

EG: He was a farmer and, uh, then, uh, they had, um, later, when they had the plaster and, uh, gypsum, that was very profitable[5]. And he was very interested in Republican politics and –

HB: Lovely. Where there any teachers in high school that were supportive of your going onto college that you can think of?

EG: Why, yes, I think so. I think they all, uh, assumed that I would, at any rate.

HB: It must have been quite an expedition every day to go to school by horseback.

EG: Oh, on horse and carriage, not on horseback.

HB: Oh, horse and carriage! Carriage. [laughs] Yes, indeed.

EG: Oh, it was fun.

HB: Now when you came to the University of Rochester, how did you come?

EG: By, uh, we came on train and then I stayed in a boarding house during the week.

HB: Where was that?

EG: The boarding house?

HB: Yes.

EG: Oh, different places. Birch Crescent and Alexander Street and so on. There no dormitories, of course.

HB: How would you find a residence like that? Did the dean help you or – ?

EG: No. Probably in the paper, I don’t know.

HB: You had to do it on your own?

EG: I had an older sister here.

HB: Is that right.

EG: Mmm-hmm.

HB: Well, that was kind of independent living, making the break from home –

EG: Yes.

HB: – going into a boarding home. You could walk to school there?

EG: Oh yes. All right around the University.

HB: Did you stay here over the weekend or –?

EG: There was nothing going on. [laughs] But, um, often went home.

HB: What were student activities like in those days?

EG: In college or in high school?

HB: Yes, in college.

EG: College. Oh, um –

HB: You were Theta Eta[6], weren’t you?

EG: Yes. Um, that, uh, sororities meant a great deal at the time when we didn’t have, uh, dormitories, and, uh, it was our only way of getting together and we’d have suppers, uh, at our homes. But, um, I’m glad we don’t have them now.[7] We have dormitories.

HB: Um, now you’ve made some notes and you’ve kind of been collecting your thoughts over these days. It’d be great if you’d share them with us.

EG: Well, sixty years – I’ve seen a lifetime of changes in many ways. When I entered the University of Rochester in 1915, we all came from a radius of about fif – twenty miles. They were most – we were most provincial and conservative. And Miss Munro[8], our dean, attempted to keep us just that way. Would you believe it? We were not allowed to wear pants, men’s pants, and, uh, therefore, we could give only Grecian plays in long flowing gowns.

HB: Oh, isn’t that beautiful.

EG: We had fine professors. Except for the few who didn’t accept the fact that young women were allowed at the University of Rochester. I remember how we loved Dr. Gale[9] even if we weren’t so fond of his subject, Math I. Dr. Kirk[10] was inspiring in economics and sociology. Oh yes, I have a personal story about that subject. Miss Munro checked our schedules individually. She crossed out my sociology. Too sophisticated for me, I guess. And wrote “Spanish I” instead. As my first insurrection, I crossed out her “Spanish I” and again wrote in “Sociology,” which went undetected.

HB: [laughs] Lovely.

EG: Psychology and education courses were rather deadly but they were, uh, required for school teaching and we had to have them. Oh, this time was of great excitement for two young teachers who are coming here from Harvard. Professor Perkins[11] and Packard[12] were excellent teachers and much beloved. Well, since there was a war on, 1918, the surgical dressing room, Red Cross knitting on Alexander Street, the Home Nursing Course at Genesee Hospital all had much more meaning for us than did Latin and math. We did have lots of fun. Dancing at noon to the jazz band made up of four of our classmates. There was a good theater at the Lyceum[13] – a Shakespearean comedy came from New York for four days every year. And we would stand in the long gallery line. One afternoon, uh, we spent the afternoon and evening there with sandwich bags.

Well, Catherine Strong and Anthony Memorial Halls[14] had just been built. The girls had a home of our own at last. The lunchroom at the end of the long “chicken run” was a social gathering place since there were no dormitories and the only time we had to see each other.

Well, we may have been provincial but, oh, a couple of years after college five of us sailed for Europe. Three of us lived with a French family in Paris and their summer home in the Loire Valley. After a morning of studying and tutoring we took off on our bicycles for a swim in the dirty, and I’m sure contaminated, river. Or to visit the Countess de Roquefeuil, who had a chateau[15] nearby. On evening walks on the one street in the little village, we would sing in French or English and attract the attention of all the village.

Well, we didn’t have to think about our future careers. There was no choice. There were two openings for women, namely teaching or social work. There were many positions in teaching open and of course very low salaries.

I wasn’t away from the University for very long. In 1925 I returned as a faculty wife[16]. The ensuing thirty-five years were most happy and rewarding. I highly recommend the teaching profession. At about this time, Professors DuBridge[17], Noyes[18], Dunkel[19], May[20] came from scattered parts of the country, as did the students. They were all excellent teachers and scholars. Our husbands were hard workers so we couldn’t get together much during the week. But the weekend parties of bridge or charades or just good conversation were most enjoyable. Oh, I’ll never forget Dr. Perkins and, um . . . let’s see . . . let’s see, uh . . . [snaps fingers] and Curtiss[21] acted out a charade. They came into the room squatting down, waddling along, and quacking like ducks the word “paradox.” [laughs]

HB: [laughs]

EG: We had a book club limited to twenty-five members which still goes on. We had our fiftieth anniversary this year. There are a couple, [sighs], almost every faculty wife is involved in some volunteer work and on the board of many, many civic and social organizations of Rochester. Of course, in those days the wife didn’t work. Even the salaries of that time were very low, but you rarely heard complaints. Well, when Eastman House became the property of the University as a home for the President, our charming Mrs. Rhees[22] became the reluctant hostess there. It was a beautiful mansion for entertaining but a rather forbidding home. The young Mrs. Valentine[23] seemed to enjoy the many receptions, teas, and other parties for the faculty, students, and townspeople. But after ten years it became, of course, a salon of photography[24].

Graduate school was now fast growing. The departments of history, English, economics, to name a few, were granting Ph.D. degrees. The Ph.D. in economics was given for the first time in about 1960 to one person, a brilliant Japanese[25]. Now there are fifty graduate students from all parts of the world in that one field. Its emphasis is econometrics. It, uh, attracts many from Japan, for they’re especially good in mathematics. . . When my husband was graduate dean[26], uh, we started a seminar in the graduate school. Every month we would have a speaker, chemistry or math students would come to hear Howard Hanson[27] or someone from the arts college lecture. Likewise, English or history majors would hear a lecture on physics or pharmacology. The refreshments were an added attraction.

Well, to be a Provost’s or a Vice-President’s wife means – meant a busier life. Not much time for home and family. One memorable bit I shall always cherish: Don and I were asked to represent the University at the inauguration of Mr. Killian at MIT[28]. Sir Winston Churchill was the honored guest and speaker. I love to say I had dinner with Sir Winston Churchill. I have to admit there were a thousand others there [laughs] at the Hotel Statler, including the speeches and music at the Boston Garden, where we were taken by bus. Sir Winston stepped to the edge of the platform, pointed to the Marine band, and asked them to play the hymn. He sang or mouthed the words with tears in his eyes, thinking about how these men had helped him save his precious island. There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience, I dare say.

Well, the de Kiewiet years[29] meant a great deal to me. Lucea[30] and I became and still are dear friends. I spent a great deal of time there, especially when I was alone. They were scholarly people. . . Oh, it was during this time, uh, when President de Kiewiet was there, that, uh, the girls, um, moved to River Campus.

HB: That’s right. Mmm-hmm.

EG: It was a privilege to meet the many distinguished honorary degree recipients for the luncheon at the Gallery or Eastman House. Eve Curie[31], J.P. Marquand[32], Anne Lindbergh[33], Marianne Moore[34], Marian Anderson[35], to name a few. I recall each of them vividly. Well, I told Eve Curie in 1921, three admiring college girls followed in the footsteps of her mother and sister. They were returning on the Olympic from America, where she received a great quantity of radium[36]. Uh, Eve replied, “Oh, we were so dowdy.” But I remembered her in her blue suit piped in red. It was very chic. I think it rather pleased her. I don’t recall who the others wore, but I can’t say “dowdy” would apply.

When Mrs. Roosevelt was a speaker at the Chamber of Commerce, she, uh, consented also to speak to University students. Since it was my husband’s privilege to introduce her, we called for her at the home of Mr. Joseph Wilson[37]. She of course gave an inspiring talk. Our trip from Strong Auditorium to the Chamber should have been an interesting one, with Ralph Bunche[38] in front with, uh, with Don, and Mrs. Roosevelt and I were in the back. But the police – they had two motorcycles leading and the sirens shouting and screaming and, uh, running red lights. We barely heard a word. She was truly a great lady[39].

I shall always have deep interest in my University. Our two daughters attended there[40]. So far no grandchildren have chosen it. Perhaps a great-grandchild will see the light.

HB: Isn’t that lovely.

EG: Do you like it? [laughs]

HB: Oh, it’s fascinating! I want to go back and catch a few more thoughts, if you’re willing. Um, do you recall anything from your undergraduate days, any particular professors who were outstanding in your mind that had a favorite course, or if the material wasn’t outstanding, that were just so captivating as individuals that it meant a lot in your life afterwards?

EG: Yes, I remember, besides all who I’ve already spoken of, um, Professor Morey[41]. He was oh, he was a very old man and his wife brought them over in their electric car and he just was able to get in and that was all. And he taught International Law and Constitutional Law and I’ll never forget those courses, they were wonderful.

HB: And you carry little, I often think so many times we forget the content but we remember little peripheral things that have been turning points in our life later on – and was he that kind of a person for you, Professor Morey?

EG: Well, yes, he – I think so.

HB: But you majored in French and English, didn’t you?

EG: [laughs] Yes, I did.

HB: And you taught French and then you taught history too, didn’t you?

EG: No, English.

HB: Oh, I see.

EG: I taught English again after, um, I was sixty, when I was alone, and I went over to visit my daughter in, uh, Japan.

HB: I want to talk about that.

EG: And I was kept there for three years to, uh, teach English.

HB: Now was this after Dr. Gilbert’s death[42].

EG: Yes.

HB: And, uh, you went to visit Emily. Emily and her husband were –

EG: At International Christian University, the one Mrs. Sibley was so interested in[43].

HB: And you stayed three years and taught English?

EG: Well, I came back and forth.

HB: Isn’t that great.

EG: I taught Japanese that all had, uh, six years of English. But, uh, they didn’t speak it – they had, uh, men professors, Japanese, and so they couldn’t carry on a conversation. They were such perfectionists that they wanted to speak it perfectly. And so to have a woman teacher for the first time, an older person – they have respect older people – uh, they, uh, felt very much at ease with me and I could make them talk, and, uh, they were at – had free discussion. We read something good, and, uh, a Steinbeck play or Hemingway, and read something that was very good English.  And, um, then we’d discuss it. They got to come to my apartment and to discuss their own – maybe they didn’t believe in any God or they were thinking of committing suicide.[44] They felt free to come and it meant a great deal to me.

HB: Isn’t that beautiful! Now, did you live in this little apartment there?

EG: Yes, there was an apartment house right on campus – everything was on campus – the dormitories. And it was the only one in Japan, which, um, they had over thirty acres of land and so, um, they had faculty homes when we were there. And my daughter lived, uh, in the house overlooking Mount Fuji and rice paddies, and, um, just through a little woods; I had to walk through a little woods to get to their house.

HB: Isn’t that exciting. What memories do you have of Japan, uh, that you carry?

EG: Oh, well, I – there were mostly Japanese women in the dormitory – Japanese teachers or, uh, older girls in the English Department and the librarian, and, um, I traveled with them. I traveled all over weekends – I only taught part time so I was able to go, uh, weekends. And then the summers mostly there. And I went even to the Island of Hokkaido, which is north and where you don’t see any tourist throngs. [laughs]

HB: Isn’t that lovely. What kind of people are they?

EG: Oh, they’re charming. Oh, I just loved my students; I had hundreds of them. And, uh, they’re, uh, that courteousness is sincere too. And, um, they are very jolly and lovely. I loved them all and they loved me. [laughs]

HB: Isn’t that beautiful. Do any of them get over to this country?

EG: Oh, at least ten have come over here to graduate school.

HB: Oh, isn’t that great.

EG: One, uh, came, uh, up to the Divinity School[45] and one to medical school and others have been in physics and economics, and, um, from our university. Now there’re a great many that come in other subjects, especially economics.

HB: Oh, isn’t that great! Now, I wanted to ask a question. Back in the days of – before Catherine Strong Hall was built, where did the women gather?

EG: One little room in, uh, Anderson Hall. [laughs]

HB: Oh, is that right?

EG: Yes. Um, let me see – was Catherine Strong built, uh, before I – I think yes, we had Catherine Strong Hall when I was there[46].

HB: Dr. Woodward[47] mentioned this one little room in Anderson Hall toward what then became the library after – you know, facing the library, and that Susan B. Anthony would come over and call on and visit the women and tell them how much was hanging on their scholarship and searching out if any of them needed help and giving them support. Um, I thought that was rather interesting that she would follow through with the women. But, um, I don’t recall myself when Catherine Strong Hall was built.

EG: I ought to know but I can’t remember.

HB: But you – you were there in the administration of Dean Munro. What kind of a person was she?

EG: She was very sweet, and she was very conservative, and, uh . . . well, some people loved her. And, um, but I felt, uh, that we didn’t have much freedom.

HB: Mmm-hmm. Was she a difficult one to approach or, uh, did she mingle with the students?

EG: Oh, not at all.

HB: Mmm-hmm. You only saw her if you were a problem [laughs] or an exceptional student, probably.

EG: [laughs] But, uh, I remember she was so precise about things – oh, chapel – compulsory chapel was deadly with her and, um, when we would have a dinner or banquet she would sit up there so precisely and, uh, see that no one started eating before she did. So we did this day, some of us would say, “Miss Munro has taken her fork.” [laughs]

HB: [laughs] Oh, that’s interesting. Well, I’m so interested in capturing little vignettes of Dean Munro because we have a fine tape of Helen Bragdon[48], and then, um, Katherine Koller Diez[49] and, um, Alice Wood Wynd[50] have, um, taped their recollections of Janet Howell Clark[51] which are beautiful. Just lovely.

EG: Oh yes, she was a wonderful person.

HB: And, uh, we are anxious to kind of pigeonhole the administrations so anything I can garner about Dean Munro I’m anxious to do. She, um, lived with the Hale family[52], didn’t she?

EG: Just two doors from, uh, Catherine Strong.

HB: And that’s where the women clustered then, over on that side of Prince Street and University Avenue. Could – did they have library privileges? Could they come over and use the library or was there a library for the women?

EG: Oh no, uh, we used the library.

HB: You did. Then Anthony Hall was the gymnasium?

EG: Yes, and lunch room.

HB: And I suppose the social room.

EG: Mmm-hmm.

HB: Um, I was interested that you mentioned there were only two options, teaching or, uh –

EG: Social work.

HB: Social work. Was nursing available to women then?

EG: Oh yes, yes. I couldn’t remember – I just wasn’t into it.

HB: But when you think of the opportunities students have today –

EG: Oh, they do many things.

HB: – it’s no wonder they are so bewildered about what to do. When we were younger there were, as you say, teaching, secretary, nurse.

EG: Some of our girls went into secretary work too, but, uh, we just all assumed we’d be teachers so we had to take the awful courses in education.

HB: Now Dr. Gilbert came to the University from where?

EG: Harvard.

HB: He did his undergraduate work and doctorate at Harvard?

EG: No. He – undergraduate here at, uh, Rochester, he was an undergraduate[53].

HB: Oh, I see.

EG: And, uh, then, uh, he went to Harvard after that.

HB: Did you know him as a student?

EG: No, I didn’t; I was two years ahead of him. It wasn’t that I was that much smarter. [laughs] There were a lot of - uh, six of the men were in Europe – our whole crowd – and we all met each other in Cook’s where they gave the mail.  Six Rochester men and six Rochester girls.  And, um, we had great conversations and we learned who was who. And then, uh, we came back and, um, we were both teaching in high school[54]. Don had to teach a year before he went to, um, Harvard to improve his finances and I was a French teacher. Well, we kind of two departments by the end of the year. [laughs]

HB: Oh, isn’t that great! That’s interesting.

EG: Now, then we went to Harvard.

HB: So you went to Harvard?

EG: Yes, to Harvard, to graduate school[55].

HB: Um, I’ve forgotten what I was going to – oh, who was in the group that went to Europe with you? Were these college classmates?

EG: It was the Henckell girls and Betty Filkins. Esther Henckell and, um, Marian Hinkle Livering[56]. And, uh, Esther was in nursing school and she just took time off. But, uh, Marian and I wanted to teach French. And, uh, Kay Van De Carr[57] was, uh with the other group and, um, Don made the fifth. And, um, the three of us lived with a French family in Paris for ten days and did heavy sightseeing there and then moved out to their summer home in –

HB: Now that was a precursor of the Experiment in International Living if I ever heard it.

EG: Yes. [laughs]

HB: That was quite an adventure in those days.

EG: It was – it was quite an adventure. We had to sail, of course, because Lindbergh hadn’t crossed the Atlantic.

HB: And you went together on, uh, the liner –

EG: The Liberty.

HB: On the Liberty.

EG: Li – on the Olympic.

HB: Oh, on the Olympic, I see.

EG: The sister ship of the Titanic.

HB: Oh for heaven’s sake. Well, isn’t that fun to hear about that? Now, uh, I want to jump – no, before we do that, let’s think in terms of – as you look back on your undergraduate years, do you ever feel that, um, do you feel that those were pretty wonderful academic exposures that you had? That you don’t regret that you couldn’t have gone to Smith or Holyoke or something like that?

EG: Um, my mother had always planned that I would go to Wellesley, and, uh, I was to go my last two years, and the Henckells were too, and, uh, we didn’t want to go; we all wanted to be stick together, so we didn’t go.

HB: This is interesting because so many of, uh, your generation and my generation went to the University because that, uh, was all their parents could afford, and the scholastic experiences we had and the friendships we made and the activities we were involved in were such that we didn’t feel short-changed.

EG: Oh, we didn’t at all! Even though we didn’t have dormitories.

HB: Um, that’s right, and I didn’t live in a dormitory either[58] and that was back in the thirties. But, uh, I think the scholarship that the professors demanded of the students really gave them a sense of achievement and exhilaration and there, um, were no regrets. And the people I’ve talked to, they felt that this was a first-class education.

O EG: h yes.

HB: Um, jumping – was there something you wanted to add?

EG: No.

HB: Jumping to your years when you were a faculty wife, um, the women’s group – it wasn’t the Women’s Faculty Club that met in the little brown house on Prince Street[59] – that was a unique group of its own, with that big round table where everyone mingled in a delightful way. But, um, what was the name of the group of faculty wives that became such a powerhouse in the community?

EG: I don’t know.

HB: Well, um, the faculty wives were all members – it wasn’t the Women’s Faculty Club as such, um, it was the wives of faculty members and you had different study groups, you had bridge groups –

EG: Oh yes!

HB: You had study groups; you were into all the social service work in the community. . .

EG: Yes. Mrs. uh, Murlin[60] was – started that – the Women’s Club[61], where everybody belonged and then there were all sorts of clubs that – study groups that – I know I took a French course. And there were bridge clubs and oh, every kind of club. It still exists.

HB: I can remember Mrs. Kingslake[62] starting a little –

EG: Surgical dressings.

HB: Yes, and, um, she took books to shut-ins and I believe she’s still doing it to this day.

EG: She is.

HB: I see her coming out of the library and taking armloads of books to people, and I believe she started that little venture. They were a remarkable group of women. Now there was a triumvirate that I recall as a student: the Hoffmeisters[63], the Van de Walles[64], and the Gilberts.

EG: Well. [laughs]

HB: Tell me a little bit about that. Were you students together or did you start out –

EG: No. No. We came to the faculty at the same time and very soon we bought, uh, property at Canandaigua Lake and, uh, built log cabins in the – a cove, and, um, we, uh – oh, we had such wonderful times. The Westons[65] joined us too and the four of us there – the children now, the grandchildren too, are like brothers and sisters. We had the best time.

HB: Isn’t that beautiful.

EG: And, um, I just sold mine this last year.

HB: Is that right?

EG: The Hoffmeisters sold theirs when they went to Florida. Ed Van de Walle died at a very early age[66].

HB: Yes, did he have a heart condition?

EG: Yes.

HB: He was such a sweet gentleman.

EG: He was a wonderful man.

HB: Yes, he sure was. Um, friend of mine was a student of his in philosophy, Bob [Cantor?], and just thought the world of him. So, um, Dr. Van de Walle was in Philosophy and, um, Dr. Hoffmeister was in Geology and Dr. Gilbert was in Economics.

EG: I remember when you had your class – you girls.

HB: Oh yes, I was an Economics major.

EG: [talking at the same time]

HB: I haven’t anything to prove for it today –

EG: Johnny Ancona[67].

HB: That’s right. And that was a wonderful department. They certainly were very supportive of us students and we used to come to your homes for teas and that was – it was wonderful. Well, I’m glad to get that straight about the Women’s Club of the University. You’ve seen the administrations of Dr. Rhees, Dr. Valentine, Dr. de Kiewiet, and Dr. Wallis[68]. Do any thoughts occur to you about the, um, different profiles of those administrations?

EG: I think I’d rather not say. [laughs]

HB: Sure. Well, I didn’t mean to put, um, you on the wall, um, comparing them, but I think of Dr. Rhees. I only knew him a couple of years as a very austere, aloof gentleman.

EG: Yes he was.

HB: But, um, I was surprised at how sensitive and, um, perceptive he was, because when – the one time I really shook his hand was at the Senior Reception, and he recognized my name and had, uh, known my father and spoke very kindly. I thought that was very –

EG: That’s unusual because he usually hurried them along in line.

HB: Of course, Dr. Valentine I thought was, um – it’s funny, there’s a person for the job in history when the needs of an institution are such and somehow they seem to match up and work out. I remember Dr. Valentine because I was a student there then. Dr. de Kiewiet and Dr. Wallis I don’t have enough exposure to make a judgment.

EG: Dr. de Kiewiet was a great scholar.

HB: Is that right?

EG: And a very fine person.

HB: And you feel that scholarship made a stride – a push forward under his administration?

EG: Yes.

HB: That’s interesting. Do you think of any, um, other insights into the faculty or faculty wives that would be fun to discuss? You saw the faculty grow from such an intimate group –

EG: Oh yes!

HB: – to such a horrendous number.

EG: Oh, I hardly know anyone now. At the Gilbert, uh, Seminars[69] now you know they have a distinguished economist come every year and they have a dinner and then there’s a speech and a reception for graduate students afterwards. And, um, it’s called the Gilbert Seminar – there’s only one couple there that even knew Don.

HB: Is that right?

EG: But they are going to keep on with the seminar.

HB: Isn’t that great!

EG: The students love it. Oh, I love it too because I get to meet all the graduate students from every country in the world!

HB: Oh, isn’t that wonderful. Well, as you do walk around the University now, my goodness sakes, it’s a far cry from what it was when I was a student and I knew everyone I passed on the way. But it’s, uh, the thing that sticks out in my mind so is that the facilities and the resources of the University are so singular, so unique, and of course, it’s the people that –

EG: We had great Presidents of the Board of Trustees. They’ve been great men.

HB: Now who were –

EG: Think of, uh, Ray Ball[70] and Joe Wilson, Merc Brugler[71], Herb Eisenhart[72]. They’ve all been civic-minded people.

HB: Yes, they have, yes, they have. And I think this is one of the reasons the University has been so great, with people taking such a pride in it. You mentioned your, um, I was very interested to hear you mention that you and Dr. Gilbert represented the University at MIT because my father had a reunion at MIT at that time and one of the memories he’s always cherished – did always cherish – was the fact that he heard Winston Churchill. And he cherished that program and the little medal that was cast for the reunion classes, and that was quite a moving thing for him.

EG: Oh, it was wonderful. Uh, we gave him an honorary degree at the University of Rochester but, uh, in absentia[73].

HB: Mmm-hmm. Well, this has been a fascinating little discussion. I hope if you think of other things you’d like to share with us, you will let me know and I’ll come back and visit you again.

EG: [laughs] Thank you.

HB: Tell me before I leave – your daughters are Emily is at –

EG: The University of Toledo; her husband’s a professor there. Her, uh, two older children have returned to Japan, where they had all of their high school and grammar school education, and they are very happy; they are teaching English. And a boy who’s in high school. And then the other daughter, Virginia is here in Penfield. Her husband is in the research department, physics department, at Eastman Kodak. And, uh, her oldest boy is married and, uh, lives in Denver. He went to – took his, um, graduate work at the University of Wyoming, um, ecology, and he has a very fine job in the park system. And the daughter – oh, she went to Europe after college and went to, um, Israel – what do you call it now in Israel – a kibbutz, and, um, met a Scotsman there, man from Glasgow, and they are married now and they’re here. They came here and, uh, they have a little boy so I’m a great-grandmother.

HB: Oh, isn’t that exciting.

EG: And they have a girl that just graduated from, uh, high school.

HB: Isn’t that exciting.

EG: So there’s my family.

HB: Well, that’s fun, and I see all the lovely pictures there. I think that’s great.

EG: That’s my, uh, travel shelf over there. I can look up there and go to twenty-five or thirty countries, and when I can’t sleep at night I just, uh, choose among the countries and travel there.

HB: Beautiful. Beautiful. Well, I certainly enjoyed this little visit and I appreciate your going back and making such a nice little organized outline of your –

EG: Well, at this age when you don’t recall things so quickly it’s nice to have – [laughs]

HB: Well, it’s just great. And on behalf of the University, I want to thank you very much for sharing these with us, and that will be very interesting to scholars in the future who’ll come and want to study about the days when you were a student. Thank you, Mrs. Gilbert.

EG: Thank  you.

[recording ends]

[1] A village in the Town of Wheatland, Monroe County.

[2] A hamlet located between Scottsville and the hamlet of Mumford. Eleanor was descended from founder Zachariah Garbutt.

[3] Founded in 1905. It was renamed the Joseph C. Wilson Junior High School in 1972 in honor of the founder of Xerox Corporation. Today it is the Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School.

[4] Mrs. Gilbert’s sisters were Elizabeth Garbutt, Class of 1916 (married Kenneth S. Whittemore) and Margaret Garbutt, Class of 1920 (married Judson Barrett Glenn). Her brother was Philip J. Garbutt.

[5] A bed of gypsum was found in Garbutt in 1811. It was later discovered that the mineral can be used to make plaster, drywall, and cement. By 1908, the Empire Gypsum Company, the Sackett Wallboard Company, the Garbutt Gypsum Company, the Lycoming Calcining Company, and the Diamond Wall Cement Company all had factories in Garbutt. (source: http://www.livingplaces.com/NY/Monroe_County/Wheatland_Town/Garbutt.html)

[6] Theta Eta was founded in 1903 and disbanded in 1970. The Theta Eta Sorority Papers and Membership Lists are available in the University Archives.

[7] The original sororities at the University of Rochester were founded as local social groups for female students, especially before 1930, when they shared the male-dominated Prince Street Campus. These sororities were at their peak between 1930 and 1955, when men and women attended school separately on the Prince Street and River Campuses. After the merger of 1955, when the Prince Street Campus closed for good, the local sororities declined until all had disbanded by 1970. National sororities came to the University beginning in 1978.

[8] Annette G. Munro served as Dean of Women from 1910 to 1930. Like Rhees, she did not believe in coeducation but supported equal educational opportunity for women. She was a graduate of Wellesley College.

[9] Dr. Arthur S. Gale was a professor of mathematics who came to the University of Rochester in 1905. He was also the first Dean of Freshmen and pioneered the tradition of freshman orientation. He was later the Dean of the College for Men. The women’s yearbook, Croceus, named him “Man of the Year” in 1931.

[10] Dr. William Kirk arrived at the University in 1911. His main preoccupation, however, was running United Charities of Rochester. President Rhees felt his appointment would strengthen ties between UR and the city.

[11] Dr. Dexter Perkins was Professor and Chairman of the Department of History from 1916 to 1953. He was a nationally prominent authority on American history. He moved to Cornell in 1954.

[12] Dr. Laurence B. Packard came to the University in 1913 as a specialist in European history. He was especially famous for the course on the evolution of Western Civilization he introduced. He moved to Amherst in 1925.

[13] Located at 32 South Clinton Avenue.

[14] Catherine Strong and Susan B. Anthony Memorial Halls were built in 1913 exclusively for the women students. They were linked by an underground passageway disdainfully called the “chicken run” by male students. Strong contained classrooms, a stage, a small library, administrative offices, and a lunchroom, while Anthony was a gymnasium.

[15] Chateau de Bouceel.

[16] Dr. Gilbert came to UR as an instructor in economics in 1925. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1928, junior professor in 1932, and full professor and chairman of the department in 1939. Eleanor Garbutt married him on August 19, 1922 in Garbutt, NY.

[17] Dr. Lee A. DuBridge was a physics professor who came to the University in 1934 and remained until 1946. From 1938 to 1941 he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science.

[18] Dr. W. Albert Noyes was a chemistry professor who served from 1938 to 1963 as chair of the department. At various times he was also Dean of the Graduate School (1952-56) and Dean of the College. He did high-level government research during World War II and was elected President of the American Chemical Society.

[19] Dr. Wilbur D. Dunkel was an English professor who came to UR in 1925, eventually becoming chair of the department. He retired in 1966.

[20] Dr. Arthur J. May was a history professor who came to UR c. 1924. He specialized in modern Europe and was also the first President of the Friends of the University Libraries. By the time of his retirement in 1964, he had taught more UR undergraduates than any faculty member before him. His book History of the University of Rochester (1968) is available online and provided the reference for most of these footnotes.

[21] Dr. George P. Curtiss was an English professor who arrived in 1913. He was a popular teacher who had the 1923 and 1933 Interpres yearbooks dedicated to him. He retired in 1953.

[22] Harriet Chapin Seelye Rhees, daughter of the President of Smith College.

[23] Lucia Garrison Norton Valentine, an alumna of Smith College.

[24] George Eastman willed his mansion to the University of Rochester upon his death in 1932. After ten years the University could dispose of it as they saw fit. It was initially used as the home of the University President (both Rhees and his successor Alan Valentine lived there). The Board of Trustees established the present George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film there in 1949.

[25] The Ph.D. in economics was launched in 1957 by Professor Lionel McKenzie. Many of his doctoral students were from Japan, where he is hailed as “the father of Japanese mathematical economics.” (source: http://www.econ.rochester.edu/people/mckenzie.html) Akira Takayama received his A.M. in economics from UR in 1960 was awarded the department’s first Ph.D. two years later. His thesis was Economic Growth and International Trade.

[26] Dr. Gilbert was appointed Dean of Graduate Studies in 1939 and officially took office in 1940. He held this post until 1948, when he was named the first University Provost. During his time as dean in 1942, the Division of Graduate Studies was reorganized as the Graduate School.

[27] Dr. Howard Hanson arrived in 1924 as Director of the Eastman School of Music, a position he held for forty years.

[28] Provost and Mrs. Gilbert represented UR at the inauguration of MIT President James Killian on March 31, 1949. The inauguration was part of the Mid-Century Convocation at which Sir Winston Churchill delivered the keynote address. His speech, “Mid-Century Convocation on the Social Implication of Scientific Progress” is considered one of his most famous of the Cold War. Over 13,000 people attended the event. (source: https://alum.mit.edu/pages/sliceofmit/2011/01/06/churchill/)

[29] Cornelis de Kiewiet was President of the University from 1951 to 1961.

[30] Lucea Henjinian de Kiewiet, the President’s wife. She was an alumna of Mount Holyoke College.

[31] Doctor of Letters, 1941.

[32] John Philips Marquand, Doctor of Letters, 1945.

[33] Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Doctor of Letters, 1939.

[34] Marianne Craig Moore, Doctor of Letters, 1951.

[35] Doctor of Humane Letter, 1957.

[36] Marie Curie visited the United States in May 1921 with her daughters Irene and Eve. It was a fundraising tour for the purchase of additional radium for research. At the White House, President Harding presented her with a certificate and a golden key to the coffer containing the hazardous substance.

[37] Joseph C. Wilson was the founder of Xerox Corporation. He was a member of the Class of 1931 and served on the Board of Trustees from 1959 to 1967, eventually becoming President of the Board.

[38] Winner of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation in Palestine in the 1940s. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Rochester in 1950.

[39] Mrs. Gilbert is probably referring to the Centennial Student Conference on Human Rights, February 10-11, 1950, at which both Dr. Ralph Bunche and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt spoke.

[40] Emily Gleason, Class of 1946, who married Dr. Alan H. Gleason, Class of 1941. He was an economics professor at the University of Rochester before moving to the International Christian University in Japan. The other daughter was Virginia Hoestery, Class of 1950. Her husband was Donald C. Hoestery.

[41] Professor William Carey Morey was a member of the Class of 1868 and a Civil War veteran. He returned to UR in 1872 and taught Latin, literature, and history until 1883. From 1883 until his retirement in 1920, Morey taught history and political science. He died in 1925. Morey Hall on the Eastman Quadrangle is named for him. His papers are available in Special Collections.

[42] Dr. Gilbert died August 26, 1957.

[43] The ICU was founded in 1949 by Japanese, American, and Canadian Christian leaders to promote post-war reconciliation and peace. The Japan International Christian University Foundation, which helped coordinate fundraising efforts, was chaired by Georgiana Farr Sibley, wife of UR trustee Harper Sibley. (She was also President of the National Council of Church Women and an honorary UR alumna.) Mrs. Gilbert was also a member of this group. In 1950 the ICU moved to a new campus in Mitaka City. (sources: http://www.icu.ac.jp/en/info/history/history.html and the Rochester Times-Union, Sept. 4, 1959) Akira Takayama, UR’s first Ph.D. in economics, was an ICU alumnus and returned to teach there.

[44] The audio is difficult to decipher here, but according to a Sept. 4, 1959 article in the Times-Union: “From her own personal experiences Mrs. Gilbert found that there is a great need for spreading Christianity in the country. Many of the students told her that their religion is more of a tradition than a conviction and they look to Christianity to teach them how to live.”

[45] The Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School.

[46] Catherine Strong Hall opened in 1914. Eleanor came in 1915.

[47] Dr. Alvalyn E. Woodward, Class of 1905. Her papers are available in Special Collections.

[48] Dr. Helen D. Bragdon succeeded Annette Munro as Dean of Women in 1930. She had a doctorate from Harvard. She resigned in 1938 over irreconcilable differences with President Valentine over the character of higher education for women (he felt that purely intellectual interests should be stressed at the expense of extracurricular activities; she disagreed).

[49] Dr. Kathrine Koller Diez was an English professor from 1942 to 1967. She was appointed chairman of the department in 1946, the first woman in University history to hold such a position.

[50] Alice Wood Wynd was a member of the Committee for the College of Women from 1938 through the mid-1970s. She was also advisor to the Student Government of the College for Women (pre-1955) and a lecturer in the Department of Economics from 1952 to 1955.

[51] Dr. Janet H. Clark succeeded Helen Bragdon in 1938 and served until her retirement in 1952. She had a doctorate in physics.

[52] May be referring to the family of Ezra Andrews Hale, Class of 1916. He has also done an Oral History interview.

[53] Class of 1921.

[54] Eleanor Garbutt taught at Holley High School in Holley, New York from 1919 to 1921. She also at one point taught in Albion, New York. Donald Gilbert taught history at Albion High School from 1921-1922. The Gilberts married in 1922.

[55] To clarify: Donald Gilbert went to Harvard in 1923 for graduate school, having already started graduate work at UR in 1922. Eleanor was married to him by then but I could not find any indication that she was ever a Harvard student. Mr. Gilbert received his MA from Harvard in 1924 and Ph.D. from Harvard in 1932.

[56] Esther McKennan Henckell and Marian Orphy Henckell Levering were Class of 1919. Elizabeth Filkins Gessler was also Class of 1919.

[57] Katherine Duroe Van De Carr, also Class of 1919.

[58] The first women’s dormitory seems to have been Kendrick Hall, a cooperative established in 1931 wherein all residents took care of the cooking and cleaning. The model was so successful that the former houses of Psi Upsilon and Delta Upsilon and the former presidential residence at 440 University Avenue (the Harriet Seelye House) were also converted to cooperative dormitories. A dedicated women’s residence hall, called Munro House, was finally built in 1939. A new Munro Hall on the River Campus (part of the Hill Court Residences) was dedicated in 1969. See also: the Oral History interview of Dr. Ruth Merrill.

[59] The original Faculty Club was formed in 1924 with Donald W. Gilbert as President. They leased a brown-shingled cottage from the University on the western edge of the campus to serve as a lunchroom, social gathering place, and living quarters for bachelor faculty. The club was restricted to male faculty, however, although Dr. Ethel French recalls in her Oral History interview that they eventually became “financially embarrassed” and finally allowed the women to participate. The Women’s Faculty Club took over the building after the River Campus opened in 1930 and the main Faculty Club moved there.

[60] Wife of Dr. John R. Murlin, who was appointed head of a new department in “vital economics” (physiology and nutrition) at the College of Art and Sciences in 1917. Following his retirement in 1945, vital economics absorbed into the Department of Physiology at the Medical Center.

[61] The Women’s Club of the University of Rochester was organized in 1935 with Hilda May (wife of Professor Arthur J. May) as President. Its goal was “to encourage wider acquaintance among members, the formation of friendships and the sharing of common interests.” It still exists today. The club’s papers through 2011 are available in the University Archives, along with the papers of its Garden Club.

[62] Hilda Conrady Kingslake, wife of Dr. Rudolf Kingslake. In 1929 he was a founding member of what eventually became the Institute of Optics. Mrs. Kingslake was also highly qualified in the optical field and, along with her husband, was influential in the founding of the Optical Society of America. The Kingslake Papers are available in Special Collections, as are the papers of the Rochester section of the Optical Society of America.

[63] The family of Dr. John Edward Hoffmeister was a professor of geology who arrived in 1923. He eventually became Dean of the College for Men and Dean of the College of Arts and Science. He retired in 1964. His wife was Ruth and their two sons were John and Robert. The Hoffmeisters made national news in 1987, when Ruth filed a lawsuit in Florida circuit court to prevent the nursing home from discharging her and her husband if she refused to allow him to be force-fed via tubes. The case was decided in their favor. She spoon-fed him until his death in 1991.

[64]Dr. W. Edwin Van de Walle (sometimes spelled VandeWalle), Class of 1921, returned to UR as a professor of philosophy and was later promoted to Dean of the College.  His wife was Mildred Smeed, Class of 1922, who worked as alumni recorder for the University of Rochester from 1951 to 1965. Their children were Phyllis and Martha (McKay).

[65] It sounds like she says “Westons” here but Dr. Richard C. Weston does not seem to have come to UR until the 1960s, when he was only a research associate in biology. He would have been decades younger than the other couples.

[66] He died of a heart attack in 1943, as related in the Oral History interview of Charles Dalton.

[67] Helen’s father was John Flinn Ancona. The 1934 Rochester City Directory lists him as a “consulting engineer.”

[68] Presidents Rush Rhees (1900-35), Alan Valentine (1935-50), Cornelis de Kiewiet (1951-61) and W. Allen Wallis (President and Chancellor from 1961-75). Wallis’s successor Dr. Robert Sproull was inaugurated the year this interview took place.

[69] She is probably referring to the Donald W. Gilbert Lecture Series, founded by his friends after his death in 1957. According to the Department of Economics website, its purpose is “to illuminate the practical side of economics, and show how economics can illuminate contemporary policy debates.” Eleven of speakers have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics.

[70] Raymond Ball was a member of the Class of 1914. His long career at UR included duties as Treasurer, Executive Vice-President, and Alumni Secretary.  He was Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1952 to 1959.

[71] Mercer Brugler was a member of the Class of 1925 who was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1953. He was Chairman of the Board for three years and eventually became a Life Trustee. He is in the UR Athletic Hall of Fame for his undergraduate football and basketball career. He has also done an Oral History Interview.

[72] M. Herbert Eisenhart was President of Bausch and Lomb. He served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1945 to 1952.

[73] Winston Churchill was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws in June 1941. He accepted the degree via live wireless trans-Atlantic radio address. The degree was received physical on his behalf by Noel Hall, British minister to Washington. The Winston Churchill Commencement Materials are available in the University Archives.