Golden Girls Oral History Project

Preserving the History of America’s First Public College for Women

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 alumnae class of 1972 stands on the front steps of Whitfield Hall

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.

Whether you’re a W grad interested in being interviewed or a current W student interested in conducting and transcribing interviews, we welcome your participation!
Browse the list of W alumnae who have been interviewed, listen to audio files and transcripts, and review publications and public history projects related to the Golden Girls Oral History Project.