Oral History, Women, and Institutional Space in Twentieth Century America


Oral History, Women, and Institutional Space in Twentieth Century America
Brianna Williford
Faculty Sponsor
Kimberly Jensen
Gavin Keulks
Women have lived much of their lives in institutionalized spaces. These spaces, such as
capitol buildings and schools, are owned and regulated by the government. To explore
women’s access to institutionalized spaces in the mid/late twentieth century, I have
analyzed five oral history interviews. These are all with and/or about Maurine Neuberger,
Karen Jensen, and Linda Stonecipher. I share pieces of their stories. Oral Histories
exhibit a direct and personal recounting of the ways in which American society has
regulated women’s access to institutional spaces, and how some attempted to surpass the
expectations placed upon them. All these oral histories exhibit some of the ways the
women were separated from men, and treated differently than men as students, athletes,
and professionals. Because of separation by gender, many sports became uniquely male
or female, think football versus field hockey. Neuberger in the 1920s, and Jensen and
Stonecipher in the 1970s, all studied Physical Education. Into at least the 1970s, most
men’s P.E. programs had separate, newer buildings, and women were taught with
completely different educational philosophies. Directly opposing men, women’s athletic
and academic programs focused on non-competition and non-commercialization. All
three women worked in industries dominated by men (coaches, educators, Jensen was an
athletic trainer, and Neuberger a politician). My unique oral histories contribute to the
current research by adding more voices and stories to the larger discussion of women in
sport and institutional space, both popular scholarly discussions today.
Honors Thesis
Honors Program
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