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Skidmore College



Joan Eisner Garb '50

I have been a housewife for over forty years, working as a volunteer on boards and in the Democratic Party of Bucks County for the last ten to twenty years, as a Committee Person, as Chair of my Electoral District which is geographically large and predominately Republican. I've organized and educated my neighbors about local government believing that all politics is local. My enthusiasm for history began at home, but both Ms. Cockroft and Ms. Warren encouraged me. The best courses in European cultural history and British history were exciting. Historiography, as a seminar my senior year with Ms. Warren was exceptional. Her courses propelled me into art history which has made a lasting impression and widened my knowledge of life. My undergraduate thesis is or was the Library: The History of the North American Phalanz, a Utopian community outside Red Bank, N.J. that thrived for a short time in the 1830's. My M.A. thesis was on the American Diplomatic policy toward the mandated territory of Palestine from 1918 to 1948. I gave the College all of my handwritten class notes so future students might see how we took down information in class in the olden days. I worked in publishing houses in New York for ten years, mostly doing publicity, but I had an excellent background in history on which to draw in my work. Further influences might be noted since my eldest daughter, Margaret, is an assistant professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis. All our family uses the past as informing the present as we all read, in our far flung homes, the daily New York Times: it is the historical journal for our day, especially the obituaries and the Op-Ed page with its perspective on the news of the day.

Rhoda Siegelman '50

Southbury,CT. After college I intended to obtain a M.A. in History. However, it was not meant to be. Married shortly after graduation, I became fully involved with the responsibilities of being a wife and mother. I was very fortunate to obtain a position in our local High School. The concept of Departmental Resource Centers had been developed and it turned out to be the perfect fit for my needs. Obviously, my research skills developed at Skidmore were an asset. I remained at Roslyn High School for 23 wonderful years.

Anne Wexler '51

I have always felt that my degree and the courses that I took at Skidmore were the best preparation I could possibly have had for my career in politics. I graduated in 1951, was the beneficiary of two extremely good professors, Miss Cockcroft and Miss Warren as well as superb professors in English literature, art history and anthropology. I think it is especially true for politicians and those who work in politics(meaning you don't have to always think of politics as being a candidate and running for office), including the people who specialize in policy issues or regulatory work, or anything for that matter involved in government and journalism. There is no better background in either field than the study of history. It is that which presents the scope of time and experience and lessons from the past, as well as the people who led and advised governments that give a good politician or journalist the perspective they cannot possibly achieve any other way. There is no better way to understand present and past culture than majoring in history. It is better than studying political science and deeply important for anyone who wants to be involved in public policy. Majoring in history, along with a well rounded liberal arts education is the best preparation for a large variety of public responsibilities. At any rate, that's how I view it. I have never served in elective office but have been involved in politics and government ever since I left Skidmore, including having a senior position in the White House and being the CEO of a public policy, government relations firm for the last 22 years and I have always believed my Skidmore education was the basis for all my subsequent adventures.(Including an honorary degree from Skidmore)

Sally Beekman McKeige '53

I have always been interested in history. That's why I majored in it at Skidmore and at Oberlin for my first 2-1/2 years in college. I always loved reading historical novels, true stories and biographies. And then I discovered archaeology which put the dawn of history way back thousands of years before Egypt and the history that was available when I was in school. I eventually went back to college in 1985 and got a masters degree in anthropology in 1994 from Hunter College. After that was done, along with a few other archaeology buffs here in Florida, we organized an archaeological society in Martin County with members from nearby counties as well. Florida has a state wide anthropological society of which our organization has been a chapter since we got started in 1996. Other than providing volunteers to do the scut work on archaeological excavations, we really focus on the protection and preservation of the archaeological resources in our area of Florida by educating the public. Without our existence here, the archaeological remains would be ignored and destroyed, as much of this important record has already disappeared.

Joan Stevenson Brennan '54

Palo Alto, CA 94301 Following a divorce ending a 15-year marriage, I found it impossible to get a decent job to support my five children, let alone make my life tolerable. So I went to law school. University of Santa Clara School of Law, J.D. 1973. After graduation I worked as a deputy district attorney in the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. There were three other women in the 45-attorney office at the time I was hired. When I resigned in 1978, I was on the felony team, specializing in sexual assault cases, but also handling the usual felonies like robbery, burglary, etc. I spent the next 18 months working in the law department of a medium-size corporation, hating every minute of it and feeling like I had totally derailed my legal career. In 1980 I was hired by Bill Hunter, then the new U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, who was actively seeking out women and minorities for his staff. I was in the criminal division and handled federal criminal cases in U.S. District Court for the next 18 months. In 1982 I was chosen as the first woman magistrate for the U.S.
District Court, Northern District of California. I served in that position for over 15 years, until my retirement in 1998. My judicial experience was the highlight of my legal career. Now that I am retired, I do a great deal of traveling. I've always been a voracious reader, and my travels inspire a great deal of my
reading these days. I do believe that historical writing has improved greatly in the last fifty years, and I thoroughly enjoy books such as "The Path Between the Seas" by David McCullough, "Africa" by John Reader, "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond, "Marie Curie" by Susan Quinn, "Desert Queen" by Janet Wallach", etc. The best advice that I could give anyone in deciding on a major in college would be to choose something in which you are really interested. You may never again have the opportunity to spend so much time on that subject, and no matter what the subject is, it will enrich the whole rest of your life. For me life is all about people. And history is their story. If people intrigue you, history is a good major.

Carolyn Miller Knutson '56

BA history - no further degrees. I never worked in a field to use my history at all, but value the background that it gave me.

Susanne Kelley Miller '56

History major/English minor. Taught kindergarten (for which I had absolutely no preparation) 1956-1957 in Fairbanks, Alaska where my husband was stationed. Stay-at-home-mom from 1957-1971 in Port Washington, NY; Scotia, NY; Oneida, NY (where we still live) Earned Master of Science in Reading Education at Syracuse University 1974. Taught Reading, English, SAT/ACT Prep, College Skills at Oneida High School from 1971-1991. Wrote and published text, Strategies For Success (Columbia Teachers College Press, 1983), which offers suggestions to liberal arts graduates entering high school teaching field......i.e. how does one move from the erudite to the pragmatic???? Wrote and published spelling book for high school students reading at least 2 grade levels below where they should be; presented numerous workshops across NY state on reading in the content area; wrote, acted, produced Reading in the Content area video for teacher workshops. Wrote training segment for Literacy Volunteers of Amer. My history degree has been effectively incorporated in my everyday work, family life, and even in my work in the community. As in many of the liberal arts fields, history provided me with an excellent background of general information, philosophy, political background, and enjoyment! Job training with specific skills came later and was an addendum to a strong educational background. I was fortunate to have had Grace Cockroft, Alice Warren, and Henri Galant after whom I would like to think I modeled by own teaching.

Jean Carlson '57

I was of the generation when a woman was either a nurse, teacher, or secretary. Also, it was common wisdom that one needed an occupation "to fall back on"; implicit was the notion that one's husband might not always be there. My mother was a physical education teacher--a rather progressive idea for her time, although the twenties were more enlightened than many younger folk realize. She extolled the virtues of having a schedule that matched that of one's potential children, and I followed suit. I wasn't interested in little children however, so planned to prepare myself to teach high school. I had always enjoyed my history classes--learning how things used to be and how they evolved, still do--so that became my major. I needed a minor in education to qualify for most high school teaching certificates, so I did that. My practice teaching took place at the Glens Falls high school, and I enjoyed it. Fortunately at the time I had a beau who owned a car and he loaned it to me for those months which enabled me to drive myself up to Glens Falls and back. Other events altered my teaching plans for a few years, but when I married my husband he was a physician in training and earned no money, so I became the breadwinner. My first position was in the Cherry Hills high school in New Jersey, across the Delaware from Philadelphia, teaching U. S. history to juniors and some seniors. A footnote here: I was job-hunting in the summer, which was late to be finding a teaching job, I was offered two, and the one I turned down would perhaps have been more interesting, certainly more challenging. I would have been teaching in a Philadelphia suburb in a residential school for wayward/delinquent girls. For my first year of teaching and marriage I just didn't feel up to it; I've often wondered what it might have been like or led to. I consider teaching to be the most difficult job I've ever had. I liked the kids and was proud to be teaching them about their country, but it was hard work. One bright spot that first year was a young Argentinian woman who was in the school as an exchange student. She asked me to be her mentor, and we developed a very nice relationship. We moved to Baltimore at the end of that school year, and again I went job-hunting. I was hired to teach senior social studies in Catonsville on a one year contract while the regular teacher was on sabbatical. That was fine with me as I suspected that we might be moving again at the end of the year. They needed to hire a woman because one of the final units in this composite course was sex education, and the other teachers in the department were men. Classes were divided by gender for those weeks. Again I found the work exhausting. I had five classes of over 35 students each and study hall supervision. Maybe one becomes accustomed to it after a while. Again life intervened, and I did not teach high school again. We lived near Manhattan for three years, and I took advantage of that opportunity to attend NYU for a masters degree in educational psychology, specializing in the teaching of reading. I had decided that if I were to stay in teaching I wanted a speciality that would relieve me of the burden of too many students. Ultimately I made very little specific use of my advanced degree. When my family came along I devoted myself to volunteering in a variety of community efforts, all quite satisfying. I continue to be interested in history and related fields such as sociology, civics, social studies. I'm active politically in a small way and love historical novels and films. It's been an underpinning for much of what I do, offering a perspective on the world that I much appreciate.

Class of 1959

Location - Williamsburgh, Virginia. Finished at William and Mary with a BA in history and an MEd in teaching history. I am now retired but worked for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation from 1973 until 1999 - most of the time as an Educator in the Department of Interpretive Education teaching colonial history to the costumed interpreters who then taught that history to the public. I also worked with our Junior Interpreter Program where costumed teens taught colonial history to children and adults. It was a very special work life and I was grateful to the start that I received at Skidmore. I would recommend the excitement of using a museum as a learning laboratory to any student.