Since 2006, the Golden Girls Oral History Project has been preserving the experiences of women educated at The W, the nation’s first public college for women. Each spring, the Center for Women’s Research and Public Policy trains students to conduct oral history interviews with members of the “Golden Girls” class on the occasion of their 50th reunion. Undergraduate students are trained in oral history best practices and conduct interviews themselves, gaining professional experience and deepening their connection to The W in the process.
The project has been central to the CWRPP mission since its inception and was built on a previously established foundation. The MUW Alumni Association had already conducted a series of video interviews with Mary Ellen Weathersby Pope, Class of 1926, Emily Eugenia Summer, Class of 1945, and Mary Elizabeth "Libby" Bickerstaff Payne, Class of 1954. Now the project has established a continuous record of The W’s social history from 1956 to the early 1970s, with additional memories gathered every Homecoming.
The project contributes to scholarship on women’s social and educational history, provides valuable research experiences to W students—particularly those in the fields of women’s studies and public history—and creates intergenerational bonds between current W students and alumni.