• Interviewee: Hagerty, Doreen
  • PDF Interview: hagerty_doreen.pdf
  • Date: June 1, 2007
  • Place: New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Interviewers:
    • Shaun Illingworth
    • Tom Frusciano
    • Elaine Blatt
  • Transcript Production Team:
    • Taylor McKay
    • Nicholas Molnar
    • Kathryn Rizzi
  • Recommended Citation: Hagerty, Doreen. Oral History Interview, June 1, 2007, by Shaun Illingworth, Tom Frusciano and Elaine Blatt, Page #, Rutgers Oral History Archives. Online: Insert URL (Last Accessed: Insert Date).
  • Permission:

    Permission to quote from this transcript must be obtained from the Rutgers Oral History Archives. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Mrs. Doreen Hagerty on June 1, 2007, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth.

Thomas Frusciano: ... Tom Frusciano.

Elaine Blatt: ... Elaine Blatt.

SI: Mrs. Hagerty, thank you for coming today and taking time out of your reunion to sit with us.

Doreen Hagerty: My pleasure.

SI: To begin, could you tell us where and when you were born?

DH: I was born in Newark, New Jersey on January 5, 1935.

SI: How did your family get to the Newark area? How did they come to settle there?

DH: My parents were immigrants from Glasgow, Scotland. They came over shortly after they were married in 1926. I think there was a fairly large Scottish population in the Newark area, and they came over to be close to friends they knew and settled in Newark.

SI: What were their names, for the record?

DH: John and Mary Cook.

SI: Do you know anything about their lives in Scotland before they emigrated?

DH: I know a great deal more about my mother's family than I do about my father's family, just because I've been in touch with them over the years and not in touch with my father's family. My mother came from a family that consisted of six. Her father was one of six brothers, so there was a fairly large contingent of family members, cousins and so on. They all were in the Glasgow area. They had a variety of businesses. I gather that times were hard in 1926 when they finally decided they were going to emigrate. My father was probably from a poorer section of Glasgow than my mother was from and may have had some Irish connections before that. That's about all I know, but he also was part of a very large family. There were six or seven brothers or sisters. With respect to my own sort of lineage, my mother had six children. I am actually the only one who survived. I had a brother who was killed in an automobile accident, but everybody else was either stillborn or some other problem with the birth process.

SI: When your family settled in the Newark area, what did your father do for a living?

DH: Well, in the '30s, it was still part of the [Great] Depression, so he did almost anything that he could find a way to do. He was a roofer for a time. He was on a boat for a time and went down to some of the Caribbean islands as part of the crew. Later on, he got into managing power plants in buildings, so he eventually became the manager of a fairly large building in downtown Newark.

SI: Do you remember the name of the building?

DH: 1060 Broad Street.

SI: Did your mother ever work outside the home?

DH: No.

SI: Can you tell us a little bit about the neighborhood you grew up in and what it was like?

DH: I grew up in a section of Newark called the Roseville district. It was fairly white, probably middle class to lower-middle class, and people didn't have cars. There was a lot of sort of just activities on the block for the kids who were there. I don't remember community organizations or anything like that. The churches were certainly fairly strong at that point. I had two aunts, who were also here, who lived just down the block, so in terms of having places to go back and forth, I did a lot of visiting at my two maiden aunts' house.

SI: Were they your mother's sisters?

DH: My mother's sisters, yes. Also, after the Second World War, my mother's cousin came over from London, who had been a teacher in London during the Second World War, and had decided that she was going to come here and then go on to Australia and New Zealand. So, she spent several months with us and then went out to Australia and New Zealand, stayed two years, and then came back and eventually settled in the New York area. She had a strong influence on my life and the direction that it took, my mother's cousin.

SI: That was your mother's cousin.

DH: Yes.

SI: Growing up in the Roseville section, what would you do for entertainment or fun?

DH: Kick the can on the street. [laughter] It was primarily just neighborhood [activities]. I took swimming lessons certainly as a child. I don't remember a whole lot of other clubs.

SI: Would you say your social network was friends from the neighborhood?

DH: Friends from the neighborhood. It was also a fairly large Catholic population, so as a Protestant, I was kind of in the minority.

SI: Was there a church that your family attended?

DH: The Roseville Presbyterian [Church].

SI: Were they very involved in the church?

DH: Not my father. My mother was and I was, to a certain extent, but not fully. I don't think I went to a whole lot. There were Girl Scouts, I guess, that were part of that, but I wasn't even really that engaged in that.

SI: The social life did not revolve around the church.

DH: No. [There were] church dinners, maybe things like that. I went to church school but not heavily involved. I didn't go to summer camp, for instance, with the church.

SI: What was the first school you were in?

DH: The first school [was] Roseville Avenue School. It went from kindergarten through seventh grade. Then, I had to transfer to Garfield School for a year, and then I went to McKinley Junior High for a year and then I went to Barringer High School for three years.

SI: In those early years in school, what were you most interested in academically?

DH: In grammar school? Everything, [laughter] everything. I did very well in school. I just remember enjoying all the subjects, and, obviously, the teacher made a difference. If my second grade teacher, for instance, was interested in arithmetic, you spent a lot of time on arithmetic. I do remember that in fourth grade, we had a teacher who was interested in opera. She introduced the class sort of at the end of the morning to the Song of Norway, which she was very interested in and even sang arias from it, so you got some flavor of different things. My sixth grade teacher was interested in South America, so we spent a lot of times making a huge map with all the minerals and so on that you could find in various [areas]. So, those are the specific things that [I remember]. Everything was of some interest, I think.

SI: Were there a lot of educational opportunities outside of school, like museums in Newark, that you would go to?

DH: I remember being taken on occasion to New York to see various things, but I had never been to the Metropolitan Museum [of Art] until I came back and visited it in the last ten or fifteen years, for instance, so not a lot of use of New York, which was only nine miles from the house. There were some opportunities through school, you know, to go to Newark Opera or something like that. I don't remember doing that.

SI: Thinking back to your earliest memories, do you have any memories of the pre-World War II era?

DH: I do, because my family had relatives in Scotland still. Since the British Isles were involved in World War II even before 1941, '38 or '39, there was a lot of concern with the correspondents who were over there, Edward R. Murrow and so on, and listening on Sunday to their broadcast and catching up with it. As I've talked with my friends, who were also about my age, my recollections of the Second World War are far clearer than theirs, yes. I even had an uncle on my father's side who was on some British ship and arrived in New Jersey at some point and was here for just a day or two and then went back to sea and was killed. So, those kinds of memories are quite specific. [Editor's Note: Broadcaster Edward R. Murrow worked as a correspondent for CBS in Europe in the late 1930s and reported from London during the Blitz.]

SI: Did you visit with him? Did he come to your house?

DH: No, he did not. My father saw him, but I did not see him.

SI: Another issue that always comes up when I interview people from Newark was that the German American Bund was active in the area around Newark and the towns around it. Do you remember anything?

DH: Weequahic and Irvington area, but not Roseville. I remember going to the shore to Asbury Park and Ocean Grove and having drop-down curtains so that you could not actually see the sea, but, no, I don't remember anything about the Bund.

SI: You do not remember anybody being pro-German in those early years.

DH: No. There was not a German presence in the Roseville district, I do know that. Who I knew who was German, I would come up with nobody.

SI: Do you remember Pearl Harbor, hearing that news?

DH: Yes, I remember [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt's speech, not all of it, and certainly having heard it several times since, but I have the feeling that I do remember hearing it initially.

SI: You were about seven then.

DH: This would have been December 7 of '41. I would have been six.

SI: Do you remember being frightened by the news or having any kind of reaction?

DH: Well, it sounded somber and serious. I don't remember being scared. Pearl Harbor seemed like a long distance away at that point from New Jersey.

SI: Do you remember any changes to Newark that the war brought? You mentioned the blackout curtains at the shore. Did you have those in Newark?

DH: No, I don't know where they would have put them. I remember taking foil papers off of cigarette packs and making them into foil balls to donate. It seemed to me my mother did some knitting for the war effort, things like that, but that's about it.

SI: You mentioned before listening to the radio for news out of the United Kingdom. Would they talk about it at the dinner table? Were you involved in any conversations about relatives?

DH: Not a lot. I don't remember. They might have talked of it, but I don't remember.

SI: Do you remember any impact on your school? Were you in school during the war?

DH: Yes. Did we have air [raid drills]? I don't remember.

SI: Did you have any kind of drills?

DH: Drills, I don't remember anything like that.

EB: Did you listen to the radio at all?

DH: Did we?

EB: Yes.

DH: Oh, yes, yes, we did.

EB: Did you listen about news events and what was going on?

DH: Yes.

SI: Being in Newark in general and Roseville in particular, was it the kind of neighborhood where your parents would let you go out on your own at a very young age?

DH: Yes. I don't remember any restrictions, obviously not late at night, but there was no fear or concern about your being out on the block or walking several blocks on your own.

SI: Could you go to the movies on your own or something like that?

DH: Oh, sure, every Saturday. That was a normal Saturday activity to attend the movies.

EB: How much was it, a dime?

DH: Something like that, yes.

TF: I am trying to remember some of theaters in that area. My mother and father are from that area.

DH: Newark was a kind of transitional area. If you went on, I think it was, Roseville Avenue, there were a lot of older homes, maybe built about the 1900s, 1920s, and there were still some families there that were from that era. In fact, the church that I went to was part of that whole older community, yes.

SI: Do you remember visiting other parts of Newark, like going down to Prince Street to shop?

DH: We went down to Broad Street to shop, yes, Bamberger's and some of the other department stores. I remember the park, Robert Treat, I think.

TF: Robert Treat.

DH: Yes, and marching in Columbus Day parades and things like that downtown, sure, and we were able to hop on buses and go down by ourselves.

SI: Do you remember any of the other big days of World War II, like D-Day or V-E Day or V-J Day or any kind of reaction on the home front?

DH: Well, I remember the invasion of Normandy when they hit the beaches and so on, and I certainly remember V-E Day and V-J Day as big important days. [Editor's Note: Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day, was celebrated on May 8, 1945. V-J Day, or Victory over Japan Day, was celebrated on August 15, 1945, the day that Japan unconditionally surrendered to the United States to bring World War II to an end. On September 2, 1945, the formal surrender was signed onboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.]

EB: Was there a lot of celebration in Newark?

DH: There wouldn't have been in Roseville. I don't think I would have gone down to participate in that, so I don't remember in particular that there was. There may have been though.

SI: Were your parents involved in any kind of war effort-related activities?

DH: I'm hesitating, because I don't remember when my parents became citizens. The British have a hard time giving up their citizenship, and it took them some time before they decided they were going to become American citizens. If you asked me, I'd say it was probably after the war, because it seemed to me that I was older. Their connections were far more with whatever Scottish community was still around Kearny and Newark than involved in political questions here.

SI: You mentioned that your mother did Bundles for Britain. Did she do other things, such as civil defense?

DH: No.

SI: Do you have other questions?

TF: I would like to ask you about Barringer High School.

DH: Okay.

TF: They had a wonderful reputation as a public school in Newark, as I understand. What were your impressions or what were your memories of Barringer High School?

DH: Well, just bits and pieces. From what I hear about schools today versus what I experienced at Barringer, I think that some of the services and some of the activities that we had at Barringer were far ahead of their time. I can't say that Barringer didn't offer me good preparation for what came later, but I do agree with you that they were doing a good job at that time. I don't know if you know where Barringer is. Barringer sits on the edge of Branch Brook Park. It was a fair distance from my household, and, while I walked to school, I wasn't close enough to the school to really feel like I was part of the immediate community. The immediate community around Barringer when I was there was largely Italian, and there were a fair number of students who were far closer in the inner ring to Barringer than I would have been. So, my friends on the block where I lived were not from Barringer. They tended to go to Catholic schools, and, in that way, there was some distance.

TF: You were Presbyterian, so you did not go to Catholic school.

DH: There was a lot of activities. I remember participating in the French Club. There were dramatic productions that we put on, and I did several of those. One of the people that you met me with here--actually, my college roommate here--was also at Barringer, and she and I both participated in a couple of plays. I graduated in January '53, she in June '53. That's how we got to know each other, because we were not in the same class. I thought the teaching at Barringer was good. We had Latin. We had French. We had good math teachers. We had good counseling. I have to say that the second person that I would name as being influential in what happened later was my counselor at Barringer High School, and she intervened very directly in what I was thinking about doing.

TF: Which was?

DH: I wasn't going to college. I was going to become a secretary, and she thought that was outrageous. I was the valedictorian of the class, and I had no plans to go on to college. She was a graduate of New Jersey College for Women and very strongly felt that that was a good school to go to. I'm a little vague on how I got from that piece into engineering. I could give you some family history that maybe sort of put me in that direction. I interviewed at Douglass, and I don't ever remember interviewing at Rutgers about the engineering program. As was said today, Douglass values offering women non-traditional experiences, and so I have to believe that the catalog at that time mentioned engineering as an option and I do think that I had to be admitted to both places in order to be able to do this.

TF: I looked at it, actually, earlier today. It had said that there was a general curriculum that all women at the New Jersey College for Women and Douglass followed. There were special programs within Douglass and then special arrangements where women could study agriculture and engineering.

DH: Journalism maybe.

TF: Yes, journalism, and you followed the curriculum of that particular school, though you were still a student of Douglass.

DH: Yes.

TF: Did you start taking engineering courses right away?

DH: I did. I have never taken a class at Douglass except for gym.

TF: Is that right?

DH: Yes, not any elective or even basic English classes. It was all at Rutgers. Women did not have cars at NJC or at Douglass, so I did a lot of walking back and forth across town. Then, there were always pick-up rides. For instance, one of the other women from the Class of '56 who was also an engineer had a boyfriend who lived at home and drove, and so a lot of the eight o'clock classes were gotten to because he offered both of us a ride.

SI: Before we go any further into your college experience, could you tell us about the influence of your mother's cousin? You had said that she was one of the influential figures on your future.

DH: When I graduated from eighth grade, I decided to go to vocational school, and I was six months into that when she arrived here and felt that that was not the right choice. So, she tutored me over the summer in Latin, in Shakespeare and in some math, and then I went on to McKinley Junior High School and then onto Barringer.

SI: Why did you opt for the vocational school?

DH: There was no expectation in my family of higher education. I don't think that they were anti-education. It just wasn't part of their experience. For them, education ended at eighth grade, so, for me, to go on through four years of high school was going far beyond what they had been able to do or expected to do. There were parts of my mother's family, as I've indicated, who had gone far beyond that. My mother's cousin that I'm talking about had a master's degree from Glasgow University.

SI: Do you think it was more just the family history had not prepared anyone for higher education, or was there any of the sense that women should not go to college?

DH: Well, there was that, too. There was that, too.

SI: Was that coming from inside the family or from society?

DH: It wasn't strong; it was more unspoken. There was no expectation that women needed to do this. The expectation was that you would get married and settle down and be a part of the household but not be out working in the workforce unless you hadn't gotten married.

EB: What was the vocational school supposed to be for?

DH: They had a special curriculum for engineering secretary, so there was that sort of technical piece of it and that's what I thought I was interested in.

SI: Can you think of anything that was leading you towards an engineering-technical slant even that early on?

DH: I think around Glasgow, there's a lot of technical expertise. They built all these huge ships on the [River] Clyde, and I remember hearing about that as I was growing up, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth. They valued that kind of technical knowledge. Then, as I said, my father was eventually into a technical part of managing a building. So, I was good at math and good at some science that I had taken--I hadn't taken a whole lot of science--and this was the era when the Russians were offering us some challenges and there was a lot of focus on engineering. I have to say, as another piece of that, I really personally thought that I would carry more weight with my father in getting him to accept this if I also decided that I would go [as an engineering major]. For me to say I'm going to be an English major probably would have not received as favorable a response as if I said, "I think I'd like to be an engineer." It wasn't just that, but certainly that was a piece of it.

EB: Did you have a lot of girlfriends in high school that you would hang out with?

DH: Yes.

EB: Did you do a lot of sewing in high school? What did you do in high school?

DH: I remember playing Monopoly a lot and a card game called Michigan, and I remember just kind of hanging out around eating pretzels and popcorn and stuff like that and gossiping. I don't think we sewed or anything like that. I do know how to sew. I know how to knit, I know how to embroider, and I know how to sew, but I did not learn that from my girlfriends. I learned that at home.

EB: I think it is a lost art. I wish I had learned how to sew.

SI: Among your friends, were there other girls who were interested in technical-scientific areas, or were they interested in more traditional areas?

DH: No, teachers. I'd say most of my friends thought they were going to be teachers, and a large number of them went to teacher's colleges. They did not go even to Rutgers. In terms of how many places you applied to, today I think everybody applies to at least three places, probably some a lot more. If you applied to one place, that was about it. You didn't come up with a list. So, Rutgers was the only place I applied to.

SI: You mentioned that you were thinking of becoming a secretary rather than going on to college. Was there nobody, aside from this guidance counselor, pushing you towards higher education?

DH: Yes. I don't think a lot of people at Barringer actually went on to college. As I said, some went on to teacher's colleges, but in terms of percentages, I don't think it was that high.

SI: Both men and women?

DH: Yes, both.

EB: Where had your guidance counselor gone to school?


EB: Yes, you said that.

DH: In fact, she sent her granddaughter here in the same class that I was in.

TF: Oh, is that right?

DH: Yes.

SI: You had some plans of becoming a secretary. When you thought about what you would do with your life, at that point in high school, was there anything else that you thought about in terms of potential careers?

DH: I knew I didn't want to be a teacher. I didn't dislike teaching per se, but it just didn't seem like something I wanted to do with my life. I don't know that I had a career plan, at that point.

SI: Before we leave high school, you mentioned that you were involved in drama. Were you a performer, or did you work behind the scenes?

DH: I was a performer.

EB: What plays did you put on?

DH: There was a play called The Double Door that I remember, and it was a kind of mystery of two older sisters who had some secret door that they hid something behind. I can't remember all the details of it, but it was set in a Victorian kind of era and we all had appropriate costumes. I was [my roommate] Barbara Sheppard (Webster)'s sister, and we were two of the principals in the play.

SI: Can you tell us a little bit about your first days at NJC, what those were like? You mentioned that all your classes were on the other side, but were you exposed to any of the freshman traditions?

DH: Yes. We were talking about that just at lunch today, and everybody in my class and I think it was traditional for several classes before--I don't know how long it continued afterwards--you had to have a specific outfit, and our specific outfit was a green Robin Hood hat with a feather in it and then we had to wear cardboard green trees with our name on it and Class of '57. We were not allowed to use Sacred Path. It didn't inconvenience me. I think it inconvenienced the people at NJC, because it was the easiest way to get to some of the classes from Cooper Dining Hall. That went on, as I recall, for six weeks that you had to wear all this outfit. The Sacred Path thing went on for the whole first year, and, as I recall, it was in May when they had a Sacred Path Ceremony that allowed you to eventually then use Sacred Path as the way of getting there. We also had seven o'clock curfews. The only exception to that was to go to the library, and there were certainly no males allowed over on the campus during midweek. As freshmen, we were pretty restricted in what we were able to do. So, I'd say, yes, I had all of the [laughter] usual NJC traditions. [Editor's Note: Sacred Path is the path between College Hall and George Street on Douglass Campus. Since 1919, the Sacred Path Ceremony has involved classes moving up to the next grade.]

TF: You were on campus.

DH: Yes. I don't remember what I did with the hat and with the sign when I went across town. I do not remember going across town with that on, so I must have had some way to stash it.

TF: Once you got back on campus, you put it on.

DH: Right, right.

SI: During those first six weeks, did the upper class women make you do things?

DH: Well, we had junior sisters while we were here, and they were supposed to be, I think, helpful. At Sacred Path, we had a sophomore who helped us out with that. I don't remember specifically how that worked, but there was a sophomore engaged in the Sacred Path piece, as I recall.

SI: At the ceremony or at something else?

DH: I think at the ceremony, yes, they had a specific role to play. The junior sister role went on throughout the year, and they were identified very early on. They might have even been identified before you came to campus, and they were supposed to guide you through learning the ropes while you were here.

SI: Do you remember who your junior sister was?

DH: Elaine Globus, something like that.

SI: Were you a junior sister?

DH: In fact, that reminds me, she did write me a letter before I ever got here, I remember that. Was I a junior sister? Yes, I was. I was also a house chairman while I was here my senior year, and I roomed with the same roommate for the first three years. Then, when I became house chairman, I roomed with somebody who was in a lower class who had been in one of our smaller houses. While Jameson, a dormitory, was here when we were here, most of the houses were like single-family homes, so maybe there were eighteen people in a house and it was a much smaller community. There was also the honor system, so that the house chairman was in charge of seeing that the household was functioning appropriately. We didn't have house mothers or anything like that. There were counselors on the campus as a whole that you could go to if you had a bigger problem, but, for the most part, the house itself was self-regulating.

SI: I have seen this from other interviews with NJC and Douglass alumnae from this era that they felt like the administration tried to act like their parents in the absence of their parents. Did you have that feeling?

DH: In loco parentis, yes, that's true, but I didn't feel it was onerous or oppressive. I think the honor board was far more engaged in infractions than maybe the administration directly, but I didn't encounter any specific instances where I came up against either one. Things could have been happening--since I wasn't even on campus most of the day--that I was not aware of.

SI: You did not feel oppressed.

DH: No. Well, freshman year was a little restricted.

EB: What time were your classes? Were they usually in the morning, or did you have them all through the day?

DH: Well, classes, I generally had at least three eight o'clock classes. In fact, I even remember having an eight o'clock class on a Saturday. The classes seemed to me to be mostly in the morning, and then there were labs out at University Heights in the afternoon and those were generally three-hour labs. For the most part, I didn't have a car, and I did find it possible to get around to all these places. There were always guys in the class who had a car or didn't live on campus, and so I didn't ever have problems getting a ride to the next class.

EB: Would you say you spent much of your time there and you went to go to class and came back, or did you go, for example, in the morning attend your class, stay and study there, and then come back later?

DH: I probably didn't get back here until four o'clock in the afternoon. If I had a gym class, it was always very late in the day. Going back and forth twice was a little bit beyond it, walking, for the most part.

SI: How well prepared do you think you were by your education at Barringer for the curriculum at Rutgers?

DH: I didn't have to study very hard at Barringer. I'm not saying I never studied, but in terms of meeting their expectations, I didn't have to study hard. It was an adjustment when I got here, and the first six months were a little rough. We straightened it out, but I would not say I was doing sterling in the first six months in particular. There were a lot of distractions. I was an only child. I'm not used to having all this going on in my household, and you were encountering a lot of people who were coming from different walks of life who were dealing with lots of different things. You couldn't wall it out in the house the size that we were in, and so I found it very distracting. I wasn't spending as much time on what I needed to do academically as I might have.

SI: This is really your first experience away from your parents.

DH: Yes.

SI: Aside from small short visits.

DH: Yes, I did spend three months in Scotland on two occasions when I was in high school or just had graduated from high school. I was in England and Scotland for the Festival of Britain in 1951, and I spent time visiting family and then traveling around with my mother's cousin. I was in Scotland for the coronation of the Queen. We spent some time on the sidewalk in St. James's Park in London overnight waiting for her carriage to come by on her way to the coronation. So, those were big events, but that was another three-month sojourn over there that included a cousin's wedding in Glasgow. So, yes, I was away from home. [Editor's Note: On June 2, 1953, the twenty-seven-year-old Queen Elizabeth II was crowned monarch of the United Kingdom.]

SI: You did have some independent experience.

DH: Yes.

SI: Does anything else about those overseas trips stand out?

DH: Well, I think that they cemented my interest in travel. I had not done that before, but I knew after I had done it that I wanted to do much more of it as I could.

SI: We noticed in your yearbook entry that it lists you as "international traveler" in your list of quotes and achievements.

DH: Yes.

SI: It points you out as an international traveler.

DH: Right.

SI: Could you talk about what were some of these things that you found new or distracting in the dorm dynamic, such as new people that you had not met before or new situations?

DH: My roommate is a very different kind of person than I am. She liked to stay up really late, and she talked a lot. I don't think that the kinds of studies she had to do were consistent with my own. She would have a big term paper, but she could wait until she was ready to focus on that, whereas it seemed to me [that] I had daily assignments that were due the next time I went into class. So, the distraction began in the room, not just in the household, and I just had to learn what I needed to do in order to manage my own stuff without getting caught up in all of that.

SI: Was there much of a social life in terms of going out at night?

DH: Well, not during the week during freshman year. There were telephone calls a lot. The telephone was in the hallway, and some of those calls went on for a long time, yes.

SI: When you went over to Rutgers College, were you the only woman in the class?

DH: Yes, I [was]. In freshman year, there was one other woman who started with me, but I can't remember whether she lasted six months or a year. Certainly, at the end of freshman year, she was gone.

SI: She was the one that you would get a ride with.

DH: No, that was a Class of '56 [member], but she did graduate, so she was there all three years.

SI: Did you sense any reaction from the men or the professors in these classes you would take?

DH: Well, I was thinking about that, and I think that Rutgers and Douglass handled this in a fairly low-key way. Nobody ever sat me down and said, "Well, now, you know you're going to be over there on that campus," or anything like that. I just simply walked into the classroom, as I recall. I think there was some shock on the part of the guys the first week or so when I was there, but there were two of us who were there at that time, so that was a little bit less intimidating than just one. I do feel that by sophomore year, it was just part of the scene.

TF: Did you feel compelled that you had to prove yourself?

DH: I didn't. I think I wouldn't like to have been doing very badly in the class, but I didn't feel like I needed to super excel and I don't think any professor put me in that position of saying, "If you're going to be here, you have to really demonstrate that you should be here."

SI: There was nothing under the surface like somebody calling on you more often to answer questions.

DH: No, I don't remember anything like that.

EB: Did they give everyone the same amount of attention if they had questions?

DH: I think so. I don't remember being turned off by any professor with a question. I've read some of the horror stories that occurred later maybe in the '70s and so on when women started going to things like military colleges and so on, and Rutgers was nothing like that.

SI: You started in 1953, which was the very tail end of the GI Bill period.

DH: Right.

SI: Were there still veterans in the classroom?

DH: I remember a couple of older guys in the class. I don't remember them as having sort of a veterans' profile. I think we missed the surge of veterans. I do know that there were still a lot of veterans at University housing. There was a sort of a temporary building community out there and I remember once or twice doing babysitting in that arrangement, but I didn't do it on a regular basis. So, they were around, but, for all I know, they could have been in graduate school or they might have even been juniors or seniors. I think it was a little behind whatever the veteran surge was.

SI: You do not remember them being a significant presence or having an impact on the campus.

DH: No, no.

SI: Do any of your specific courses or professors stand out in your memory as having a big impact on you, or do you have any stories?

DH: I think the professor that I had the most I.E. [Industrial Engineering] courses with was [Alfred A.] Kuebler.

SI: Kuebler.

DH: Yes. He was a low-key guy. He wasn't somebody who overwhelmed you with his presence, but he was supportive and he had a lot of impact on what was emphasized in the curriculum, I think. I.E. was part of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the time that I was here, so it wasn't totally separate.

TF: How did you get interested in that specific field in engineering?

DH: I'm not sure. I really don't remember. It did seem that once we started doing it that it was a good match and obviously I've stayed with it, so there seems to be some [interest].

EB: Did your parents come up and visit at all?

DH: No, they did not have a car.

EB: How did you move in?

DH: My college roommate's father had a car. As I said, we both grew up in Newark, so I came down with her. She also had a brother who went to Rutgers, and so occasionally he would give us a ride. He was not living on campus.

EB: Did you take the train home at all to visit them?

DH: Yes, I did. I probably went home once every three weeks, something like that. I took dirty laundry home, things like that, in a suitcase, yes. [laughter]

EB: Were your parents proud of you that you were doing well?

DH: Yes, they were fine. I don't remember particular engagement on their part. There was no specific disengagement, but they were supportive. They were concerned that I was okay, but it's not like today. I recently saw on PBS [Public Broadcasting Service] broadcast about how parents are now engaged in helping graduates get good jobs and sometimes they go to interviews, and consulting firms are now preparing brochures that are directed at parents. There was a lot more distance between parents and what was going on with their kids than there is today. I don't even remember for other people as I saw them on campus a lot of parental presence. There was some, a lot more than with my family, but not overwhelming.

TF: There were certain social days that Douglass had for parents.

DH: Yes. They would have a Father's Dance Day, and the fathers would come down for that kind of event.

SI: Do you remember any social events on the weekend, or what would you do on a weekend?

DH: International Weekend was a big event here on the college campus. It seemed to me that that occurred in the fall, and there were always speakers who were brought in and other focuses on learning about other cultures. I participated in that. I didn't have a primary role, but I went to the events and heard the lectures. We were also at that time required to go to chapel once a week. I think because of my presence across town that I was not required to go to that many chapels, but I did go to some of the special chapel events around Christmas and things like that.

TF: The Yule Log Ceremony.

DH: Yes, but participating here, for instance, in a lot of the clubs and so on would not have been possible. I was at one point the business manager for the Rutgers Engineer. It was more on that side of town than over here, and even that was rather limited because of the distance.

SI: What do you remember doing as the business manager for the Rutgers Engineer?

DH: [laughter] It was not a particularly demanding job, and I don't remember any particulars about it.

TF: Did you write anything for the bulletin?

DH: I don't remember. I don't really remember.

SI: Were politics discussed much among the undergraduates at Douglass?

DH: Well, the Eagleton Foundation was just coming into being when I was still here, and that certainly put some focus and emphasis on politics. My college roommate, Barbara Sheppard (Webster), was a political science major, so I certainly got a good bit of that from her and from sitting around maybe the coffee table with some of the people who had participated in the seminars over there. So, I do remember some discussions around that line but not so much alignment with political parties. I do not remember a lot of engagement with the Republicans or the Democrats.

SI: You did not get a sense if people were more liberal or conservative.

DH: I do not remember a lot of conservative discussion around the table. If it was anything, it was much more liberal.

SI: That was the age of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

DH: Yes, right. I'm not saying people weren't Republicans, but, in terms of the spectrum today, it's far more towards the middle than [the right].

EB: Did you find it difficult having to balance living on Douglass and traveling to the engineering classes? Did you feel that you were limited, that you could not participate in as many activities as your roommates could, or did you feel at all left out?

DH: No, I can't say that I felt left out. In some ways, I think it might have been a richer experience than I would have had today. I was thinking about dormitory arrangements today, for instance, and I expect that if I had come in as an engineer today, I would have lived on the Rutgers campus. I don't know if I would have been given a choice about where to live, but my choice probably would have been to be over there and I would have spent more time with other engineers or other people in a scientific curriculum. I think being over here on a liberal arts campus really enlarged my view of the world. Maybe I sacrificed a little bit of the give and take around the engineering or scientific. There was some of that, just waiting for classes and riding out to wherever it was we were going, but my engagement socially was far more significant, I think, on the Douglass side than it was at Rutgers.

TF: Did you have any relationships with the administration at Douglass? You went through two deans.

DH: Yes, I did.

TF: Margaret Corwin.

DH: Bunting, Mary Bunting, yes.

TF: What about the associate deans? Was there one that you personally interacted with?

DH: Well, during the freshman year, when I was having difficulty, one of the deans did help me out and helped to straighten me out. We did have that resource available. I don't remember whether she was tied to a particular campus or not, but she was very engaged.

TF: Yes, I always have that sense from graduates of Douglass and NJC that there was a real community focus and a nurturing atmosphere on the campus.

DH: I remember Dean Trayes. I don't remember being particularly engaged with her, but I certainly heard her speak publicly a fair number of times. So, you did have the sense that there was an adult presence on campus, yes.

SI: What did you think of your prospects for a career in engineering in the 1950s?

DH: Well, one of the sort of gaps, I think, was at the point we were seniors and the guys began to get information about stepping into the career office or whatever the exact name was and I wasn't engaged in my head about this needing to think about what happens after June and you're out there looking for a job. So, I really got into that whole piece of it fairly late. Douglass was not doing anything in that regard. I do think that early on a lot of IBMs and RCA and Motorola and so on were coming to campus, and when I did get engaged, I got engaged a little bit late. I had missed a lot of the on-campus interviews, but I did have the opportunity to talk with AT&T, talk with SOHIO [Standard Oil of Ohio], and go out there and interview with them. It was a little late. I probably needed to be engaged a little [earlier], and that was probably due to the fact that however this word got spread, I wasn't seeing it.

TF: It was not there.

DH: Yes, I wasn't seeing it.

SI: In these on campus interviews, how receptive were they to women? Was this a new thing for them, a woman engineer? Did they already have female employees?

DH: AT&T is an example of a company that had never hired a woman in a position like they were considering hiring a woman for. They were looking for somebody who was going to demonstrate that a woman could do it, and I remember being asked questions along that line. I didn't get the job. [I am not sure] that I would have wanted the job, but I thought that was a lot of pressure to put on somebody that they were bringing into the company. SOHIO was interested in transforming me into a programmer, because they were just beginning to have that kind of need. I wasn't at all sure that I wanted to get out of industrial engineering and go in that direction.

Actually, my first job came about as a result of a Rutgers alumnus. J.V.N. Dorr had graduated from Rutgers many years earlier, was still engaged with the University I gather, and he started the Dorr Company. He had started out in the Black Hills of [South] Dakota with mining equipment, and they were into filtration and water purification. Their headquarters was in Stamford, Connecticut. Somehow or other, through this career counseling office, I was given the opportunity to meet J.V.N. Dorr in New York and was hired by Dorr-Oliver at that time in Stamford, Connecticut. [Editor's Note: John Van Nostrand Dorr graduated from Rutgers in 1894.]

I didn't actually do industrial engineering there. I went through their management training program and went through their various filtration plants, where they had installs, including Sparrow Point, the Bethlehem Steel plant, and was the first woman to go through that, Cape May, New Jersey, and so on. I wound up, after going through the training program, being in their legal office and managing their new ideas program and did some patent searches in Washington and so, at that time, did consider becoming a lawyer.

I took a contracts course at NYU [New York University] while I was still in the master's program there for industrial engineering. At that point, I got romantically engaged and decided to get married, so left NYU and left off the idea of following the legal track.

TF: Did you complete the master's degree at NYU?

DH: No, I did twelve credit hours there. Then, we moved to California, and then I talked to U of C [University of California] out there at Berkeley. It seemed like it wasn't going to be feasible given the kind of job that I had out there to handle their class schedule, and so I didn't really start anything again until we got to Nebraska. Then, I started again at the University of Nebraska, and then we moved again to Chicago. So, it wasn't until we got there that I got into Northwestern and finished the master's program there in industrial engineering, but I have a lot of credit hours sitting out there in other things.

SI: What initially attracted you to going back to graduate school, particularly at NYU?

DH: I guess I thought I needed more degrees in order to do a better job professionally, and NYU had an interesting program.

SI: Was it a time of change in the field of industrial engineering?

DH: Not particularly, no.

SI: I know other fields were really changing a lot, such as ceramics.

TF: In the late 1950s and early 1960s.

SI: Yes, some fields, such as plastics, were changing in the late 1950s and 1960s.

DH: Well, industrial engineering's a pretty broad field. One of the things that I was interested in is the human factors area, and for a number of years that seemed to be something that I wanted to pursue and there were companies that were focused on human factors. My master's thesis is in the human factors area, but I have never, other than using it on specific projects, gotten focused on just that one aspect.

TF: You mentioned different jobs or different locations, such as California. Can you talk about the particular jobs that you had?

DH: After leaving Connecticut in 1959, I moved out to San Anselmo, California, and my husband had decided to leave General Electric, where he was part of the accounting staff, and to go back to school. He went back to seminary in San Anselmo and became a Presbyterian minister.

While he was in seminary, I found a job at the Alameda Naval Air Station in the Airplane Overhaul and Repair Department doing industrial engineering, a lot of plant layout kinds of things, and so I worked there for almost three years. I thought that that was a good experience. It was certainly [a] large complex, and it was using a lot of the techniques. I was working with a group of engineers who came from different disciplines, and it was interesting to see how they were applying their skills in different ways. Somebody was working on materials handling, and I was working on clean rooms. We weren't all doing the same sorts of things, so there was a lot of diversity.

After three years, my husband's first job was in San Luis Obispo, California, which is 250 miles down the coast, a very nice, small community of about 25,000 at that time. There were not a lot of jobs, so I took a job for three months with the county government. I didn't really like what I was doing--it was a lot of drawing--I didn't think I was particularly good at the drawing for what they wanted. So, I left there and became a substitute math teacher at the junior high school and enjoyed doing that part time.

TF: You did not want to be a teacher. [laughter]

DH: They were fun. My husband--this was his first parish--so there were some expectations of fulfilling a role as a minister's wife there, and it was kind of still trying to keep my hand in. Vandenberg [Air Force Base] seemed a little far away for me to drive to every day, so I didn't pursue that. After two years, we left San Luis Obispo and moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, and he again took another church. Over these years, I'm really following my husband around and not thinking of a career but thinking of at least using some professional skills.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, I went to work for Woodmen Accident and Life, an insurance company. There, I did programming, and they sent me to Detroit to get some language skills. I think it was called Autocoder at that time. It was one kind of a programming language. We left there after two years and came to Chicago and moved to Winnetka, Illinois. I took a job at Northern Trust Bank in downtown Chicago, and I was in the Systems and Procedures Department and worked on a variety of projects but was not doing programming.

My son was born in 1968, and I stayed home for ten years. Winnetka is a very social community. A lot of the executives in the city live along the lakefront starting in Wilmette and going further up the line through Winnetka, and there was no lack of things to engage you in terms of social activities or involvements in the community. At that time, I went back to Northwestern part time to finish the master's degree, while David was still quite small. I was active in the League of Women Voters and got on the local board [and] was elected president of the local board. I was active in the Winnetka Congregational Church's rummage sale, which is a once-a-year effort to raise money for causes outside the church--it's the largest rummage sale in the country, so a big deal--and I was their treasurer and assistant treasurer [for] a couple of years. I was on the nursery school board. So, [I had] a lot of involvement in the community [and was] spending forty hours a week engaged in these kinds of activities.

We moved into the city, into Chicago itself, into the Lincoln Park area, and my husband took another church down there. My son was about ten at that time, and we decided it was time for me to go back to work to really do something with the second degree that I had gotten. That's when I got into health care, and my first hospital was St. Mary of Nazareth, which was about twenty blocks from my house and close to home if I needed to get there. I was asked to start the Management Engineering Department there, which consisted of myself and one other person at that time. After five years, then I left there and went to University of Chicago Hospitals and started that Management Engineering Department up, and we now have a group of seven consultants who work internally on different kinds of projects.

SI: Could you explain what those types of projects are?

DH: Broadly speaking, it's anything that represents process improvement, or it can represent support for the install of a new IT [information technology] kind of system. So, for the moment, I have several people who are assigned to be workflow analysts on what is called the install of the "Epic" software package. There are various modules on that system for the ED, Emergency Department, one on in-patient units and another for radiology, and we provide the workflow analysis support for those projects.

In addition to that, UCH has decided that for some high-level strategic initiatives, (we have a new president who's come in with a lot of new ideas) we need to develop something called a Program Management Office or a PMO. This has become very popular in IT circles or construction circles, anywhere there is large dollars involved, because many of these projects do not come in on budget and do not achieve the goals that they set out to achieve. Only nine percent is the statistic we have been given, yes, actually do that. So, there's a methodology out there that says if you are taking on major projects like this, there are certain kinds of documentation and certain kinds of analyses that you need to go through as you go through the various projects to make sure that you do what you set out to do. So, we have that set up in IT, and because of these other strategic initiatives, we're setting it up for these other projects as well. So, the other people in my office are fairly largely engaged in those kinds of projects.

For health care right now, throughput and fill, namely, who's in your bed and how many beds are occupied, is a big deal, and so one of those projects that are strategically important to us is called throughput and fill. One of my staff is assigned to that project to provide the kind of support for the project overall and any data analysis that's required.

TF: That keeps you busy.

DH: Yes. One of the interesting things about being at an academic institution like this is that you are not doing the same thing year after year. If I took you through all the years that I've been there, there have been many initiatives. This is just the latest one, so it's never boring. [laughter]

SI: You have had a long career doing various things but under the same engineering umbrella. What changes have you seen between now and when you started in late 1950s and early 1960s?

DH: I'd like to make a distinction between health care and other industries, because I think a number of IEs [industrial engineers] who are in other industries find themselves very specifically focused in one particular area. What's been interesting to me about health care is that it's never the same, and because you're not concerned about a particular process that has to meet very precise tolerances, there's far more allowance for process variation in health care, probably more than there should be. The projects are interesting, and the techniques vary a lot. I've had people who've come from other industries and have made the same comment that I have, that it's a far more interesting discipline in health care.

SI: Did you find that in your earlier jobs, like out in California, you were very focused on one thing, such as clean rooms?

DH: Yes, but I also need to say that most of my career has been spent in service industries, and that's not the same as heavy manufacturing or the airline industry or anything like that.

SI: What about the overall role of women in these corporations and educational institutions and the types of jobs that you were offered and the way you were treated in the workplace? Do you have any comments on how that has changed?

DH: I think women today have a lot more opportunities than I had. I'm not saying that because I felt discriminated [against]. I do think that people in general have a lot more opportunities today than people who graduated when I did. I think that the focus on mentoring today does help women to do some things that maybe they couldn't have done before.

One of my dilemmas as a manager--and I have several women who work for me and I have a couple of men who work for me--is that the women seem to look for a lot more specific answers than I feel it's my role to give them. They want me to, in some instances, not all, to help outline how they should move through, "What additional techniques do I need? What should I be doing?" I think that your career direction is much more an individual decision and that you need to get some information from a variety of people about the opportunities, but you have to put it together to figure out what's of interest you. It's a little frustrating sometimes when I feel like people are looking for me to open up specifically.

TF: People want you to give them answers or point them in the right direction.

DH: Yes, yes.

SI: Do you think there is a reason for that?

DH: Why they expect that?

TF: Because you are a women, it has a gender relationship, or would they do that with a manager who is a man?

DH: I think it's just the manager. Now, maybe they feel freer to express it to me.

TF: They are just looking for that kind of direction.

DH: Yes, right. I will say that the University of Chicago Hospitals has not had a strong career orientation for anybody other than nurses. When we've hired people to be administrators, for the most part, we've looked outside. It's only recently that we've begun to say that we have this resource internally and we should [use it]. So, I sense their frustration, but, as a manager, I'm not positioned--I'm not in HR, for instance--to totally change the orientation of the hospital towards career development. Nurses have been very scarce for a long time, so we tend to take care of our nurses. There are a lot more of them.

SI: Did you have to do a lot of international recruiting to get nurses?

DH: No, we haven't had to do that.

SI: Tell us a little bit more about your role as the wife of a minister in these various communities. What did that entail, and did you see big differences between communities in the West Coast and the Midwest?

DH: I've tended to be myself, and so I'm not sure that I was the best minister's wife. I did not pick up every task that somebody [suggested], such as a Women's Society tasks or anything like that. It isn't that I wasn't present in the church. I did a lot of entertaining in my home. What that entertaining looked like probably depended on the type of community it was. [There were] a lot more dinners and things like that in Winnetka or brunches than, say, in Columbus, Ohio, but it certainly represented an obligation. I do remember early on in San Luis Obispo that the minister's wife there--there were two ministers--the senior minister's wife thought that I needed to do more than I was currently doing and needed to behave in certain ways.

TF: I am sure you welcomed that. [laughter]

DH: I don't see myself as the traditional minister's wife, nor did my husband expect that. He was quite respectful of independent interests and becoming your own person, and, in some way, I think he was a little bit different than some of the other '50s males were. That's probably why I have been able to spend as much time on my own interests or career than other people might have of my generation.

SI: How did you meet your husband?

DH: I met him in church. The Presbyterian Church in Stamford had a young adults group. [It was] probably not very large, probably fifteen to twenty people. Most of them were professional. When I moved to Stamford, I became active in that group, and that's where I met him.

SI: Well, as a minister and minister's wife, you and your husband must have been seen as community leaders. I was wondering what your view was of the movements of the 1960s, such as the civil rights movement, the youth movement and the women's movement. How did the different communities react to these movements?

DH: I'd say we were in Winnetka most of that time. It was a very difficult time to have children at the end of high school or in their late teens. A number of the children in Winnetka left the country, went to Canada, and one went to Scandinavia and that young man lost his life there. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but he seems to have drowned. So, it was a sad time. It was a time that divided families, because this is a very conservative, probably mostly Republican community, was not in favor of this kind of behavior.

Even staid Northwestern had demonstrations [laughter] on Evanston Campus at that time. There was an adult Sunday morning seminar at nine o'clock, and we would have a lot of outside speakers come in. I remember having, her name was Jefferson, come in from Northwestern to talk about what was going on on campus. So, there were a lot of opportunities to hear other perspectives. In fact, the night of one of the Nixon firings, when he let some of his cabinet members go, we had somebody from NBC News in my household and having a dinner party, he was to be the speaker the next morning, yes, so we all stopped what we were doing to hear this news on TV.

TF: They called this the Saturday Night Massacre on October 20, 1973.

DH: Yes, that was what it was and I can't remember who was involved in that, but several cabinet members, yes.

TF: I think Archibald Cox was the special prosecutor.

SI: Yes, he was fired. [Editor's Note: In 1973, special prosecutor Archibald Cox conducted an investigation of the involvement of the White House in the Watergate burglary and subsequent cover-up. When Cox demanded the release of the President Richard Nixon's tape recordings of Oval Office conversations, Nixon ordered that Cox be fired on October 20, 1973. Several Justice Department officials resigned in protest in what has become known as the Saturday Night Massacre. The tapes were eventually released, revealing Nixon's connection to the Watergate crimes. Facing the prospect of impeachment, Nixon resigned from the presidency on August 8, 1974.]

DH: Yes, right. They also were interesting times but also times that tore families apart [and] were very, very hard on the families.

SI: Did you and your husband counsel people about such matters?

DH: I think he did. I didn't try to. I would not have done any of that. I did not go to Selma. I did not feel tempted to go to Selma. I certainly knew about the marches and so on, but if a minister's wife in Winnetka had gone to Selma, I think it might have raised some [eyebrows]. You're always kind of balancing how much you can do with what the community will allow, and there wasn't a large movement of people from there that went down to participate in any civil rights marches. [Editor's Note: In 1965, civil rights organizers led a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in support of voting rights. The march eventually included thousands of people, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis. The violence inflicted upon marchers by the Alabama State Police was broadcast on national television.]

I do remember some friends of ours though, who had children who were older in college and so on, and they certainly got very engaged. That was a Democratic family and felt very strongly about the civil rights pieces. In fact, all of their children became lawyers, and they spent some time in jail. There were immediate kinds of pieces of information about all of that.

SI: Did your husband ever comment on these things from the pulpit?

DH: The senior pastor did more commenting. He was not the senior pastor. The senior minister was more of an intellectual than he was somebody who couched everything in religious terms, and I think he was able to frame things in ways that people could hear even when they didn't totally agree with his perspective. So, there was certain comment on a lot of it, but other places, that would not have been tolerated without some response. It was not an easy time to be in the clergy either, because it polarized people, and if you don't want to split the congregation, you've got to figure out how to handle the politics of all of that.

EB: You have one son.

DH: I have one son.

EB: What is his name?

DH: David.

SI: Did you and your husband just leave him to his own in terms of studying and what to do with his life? Did you let him find his own path?

DH: I think we felt that he should pursue whatever his interests were. We moved three times while David was in high school. This was not easy on David. The third time we moved, he attended New Trier High School, which was a very large, very prestigious, high-academic achievement kind of place, and he walked in there in his junior year. That was very difficult for David. So, we were very anxious that when he chose a college that he found something that he felt strongly would work for him. He chose to go to Vassar. It was a smaller school. He felt it was a little more welcoming than maybe a large academic environment, and he was an English major.

Now, he's gotten a master's degree in special education. He's employed at Sacramento Community College and working with special education students, people who perhaps arrived there with some deficit or other that they need special help with, and he works out a program for them, has some teaching aides who work with him.

SI: Looking over your career, is there a specific project within one of your jobs that you found particularly exciting or you felt was important?

TF: Was there a highlight of your career?

DH: I think the current project is certainly important and is a new departure. Prior to that, there was a project called the Access Project, in which we looked at all the different ways in which patients got to know about or arrived at the hospital and ran a series of six or seven task forces all at the same time, bringing together recommendations and proposals to senior management to all be wrapped up and acted upon. There was an excitement about doing all of that and getting a good bit of it implemented. I was working with a vice president who had responsibility for planning and marketing at that time and had worked for a consulting firm before coming to the hospital, and she had a very clear idea of how she felt this project ought to roll out.

The third one I would mention is that the university used to answer our telephones for the hospital. It meant that you had students who were handling the switchboard, so we would have patients calling and say, "Oh, I'm not feeling well" and they would get a student who would be clueless about who they were dealing with. The hospital did not feel always that the answers were the kind of answers that we [wanted] or the treatment of the patient was the kind of treatment we wanted the person to have. So, we decided to pull away from the university and set up our own call center.

I worked with a set of consultants, and U of C got space thirty miles from where U of C Hospitals are. We got the technology we needed, the computers and the software piece to sit on the desk, to set this all up, and we went live with it before the millennium came along and then got that all moving along. Then, [we] finally had to deal with the [year] 2000 issue and to figure out whether we were going to be covered there. That was a departure for me moving more into the IT piece, but because it was being handled outside of IT, I got involved in all of it. It is one of the best run call centers--one of the best run units actually--in the hospital right now. Their call abandonment rate is really low. They've got lots of scripting about how to handle the calls. The front end piece is going well, and we answer for the doctors when they're not on site. So, it was a good move.

SI: At any point in your career, did you ever feel like you were discriminated against or not given an assignment because somebody had issues about a woman engineer?

DH: I think when I worked for the government there was one instance where I felt some guy in the construction area was sabotaging what was going on. It came to a boiling point, but that was very early in my career and I felt I was supported by my manager in that regard. It sort of dissipated, but that's about the only instance that I can think of.

SI: What was he doing to sabotage?

DH: It was moving an office and redesigning the office, and he went ahead and did some things that he was not authorized to really do. That was a long time ago; I don't remember a lot of the details.

SI: Have you felt in most of your jobs that you were well supported?

DH: Yes, I've spent these last twenty-five years or more in health care. The projects my staff and I have worked on have generally been well received and appropriately implemented. We have had strong participation in these projects from administration.

I have reported to a number of administrators over the years: COO, VP Finance, VP Marketing & Planning, and others. While they have had specific opinions about focus and priorities, we were usually able to reach agreement. In each case, their support was substantial.

Before health care, I was not a manager and the relationship and oversight of my managers were also more than adequate.

SI: Do you have other questions?

TF: You are here at this Douglass reunion. Have you ever thought back about how Douglass and your education here have impacted you in terms of your career because you have had a long and what sounds like successful career?

DH: I find I'm unusual in the class, and Barbara Sheppard (Webster), my roommate, is unusual, too.

TF: That is what I am getting at.

DH: The Class of '57 was much more likely to get married and stay home or maybe have a little bit of a teaching career but not have any sense that the career was ultimately important to them. I think that's where I've arrived, that it has meant a great deal to me in terms of who I am. That's one of the reasons I'm still working, I think, is I've not been able to totally walk away from it. It isn't the kind of job that is onerous or is repetitious.

TF: That you have had enough.

DH: Right, yeah.

TF: You sound like you are engaged as if you just began this new career and are excited to talk about it.

DH: Right. I haven't had a lot of chance to talk to people since I just got here just a little before noon, but I know from other reunions that I've come to the conclusion that most people have been satisfied to stay home, that family has been the largest part of what their world was. I'm certainly still engaged with my family, but I don't make that my life. David and I talk once a week and I try to visit him twice a year and he comes back here to Chicago on occasion, due in this month. I want to be supportive, but I don't want to manage his life. He's an adult now, and so if I'm not going to do that, I need to have some other interests of my own and this seems to satisfy me.

TF: Do you stay in contact with the folks you went to college with, such as your roommate, besides meeting them at reunions?

DH: Barbara and I in the last twenty years have taken a number of overseas trips together. I have also been to her children's weddings. Well, we just got through the vanguard class going across the stage and saying where we were living and so on, and a large number of people still live in New Jersey. I have the feeling that that's true across all the classes. There are only three of us from Illinois back for this reunion, and we don't see each other out there. There's not sufficient mass for us to have a Douglass Club or something like that. So, outside of my college roommate, I can't think of anybody else other than at reunions that I've seen. There are a few people that I was friendly at the time that I was here, that those are always the people that you gravitate to at reunions. I've also found as I've come back I have started to talk to some other people that I didn't know that well when I was on campus, and what has become of their lives is more interesting maybe than some of the people that I was close to on campus. The class itself is pretty largely. I think in the '20s or the '30s, there were people who went on to get Ph.Ds. and took careers seriously, but I think the '50s did not do not that.

TF: There are some interviews of women from the Douglass classes in the 1940s in the Rutgers Oral History Archives. Partly because of World War II, some of them went on to very interesting careers. Have you stayed in touch with the engineering students?

DH: That was the reason I came back to the Rutgers fiftieth [reunion]. I have not seen anybody from that I.E. class since I left.

TF: Were there any of them there at the reunion?

DH: Yes, yes, there were three or four that I knew, yes, but it wasn't a large class. I think we had a maximum of twenty in the IE group at that time, and some of them are, I was reading, they've died, so probably reduced to about fifteen or so. There were probably, I don't know, maybe six or seven of us at the reunion.

SI: I just wanted to ask you a question about living in all these different areas of the country. Could you tell that there were different characteristics of people who were from Newark, New Jersey than those from the West Coast or the Chicago area?

DH: I feel lucky to have spent all these turbulent times in the Midwest. I think the Midwest did not get the extremes that I know California got, and I think my son's experience would have been vastly different if he had grown up in California, as I've talked to some people that we knew at the time and what happened to their children. I know less about the New York-New Jersey area as to whether that had any of the extremes, but I think the Midwest doesn't get the vast swings that they get on either coast. I enjoyed California when I was there. I thought it was very exciting to be there.

I'm thinking back now, one experience that I had talking about who I met, is that JFK [John F. Kennedy] flew into Alameda Airport and met everybody coming off. We were allowed to go out and greet him, and so that was pretty exciting out there. I met [Ronald] Reagan when I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska, because the guy who was the president of that company was a conservative Republican and he trotted him through the office, so sort of interesting.

It was hard for me to leave California. I thought that California was just the end-all be-all, and that's what my son thinks now. As a family, it would have been difficult to be out there just because of all the pressures in the community.

SI: Were there any kind of riots in the area you were in during the 1960s, in the local communities?

DH: Just after we moved to Chicago, I'm not sure that it was '66, it must have been '67 or maybe April of '68, Martin Luther King was killed.

SI: Yes.

TF: It was April 4, 1968.

DH: Yes. I was working at Northern Trust, and so I worked downtown in the heart of the city. We were let go earlier in the day because buildings were burning, and there was just a real backlash after the death. So, there were riots in Chicago around that time. [Editor's Note: In the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., riots took place on the west side of Chicago on April 5, 1968.]

Also, just when we got there, Martin Luther King had been in Chicago in some of the western parts of the city because of racial discrimination in housing and had marched through the Austin neighborhood in particular. When we arrived, people were very much aware of that as a pressure. Certainly one of the issues that the North Shore has dealt with is low-cost housing and where do you put it and are you willing to have it in your community. So, there were some initiatives within the church to address that and to try to take some steps to enable that to happen.

SI: Were members of the community generally in favor of what King was trying to do or neutral?

DH: No, no.

TF: This is the North Shore, you said.

DH: Yes.

TF: That is a pretty affluent area.

DH: Right.

SI: What about living just outside of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention?

DH: Oh, my goodness, yes. I was pregnant with my son in '68, and I worked until I was seven months pregnant and then I stayed home. I was watching the Democratic National Convention on TV in the afternoon when the police were out in Grant Park, and there was a confrontation and clubbing of some of the people who were out there. It was emotionally very, very hard to see your city go violent like that. Obviously, I haven't forgotten it. [Editor's Note: Richard J. Daley served as the mayor of Chicago from 1955 to 1976. At the end of August 1968, the Democratic National Convention took place in Chicago. Mayor Daley lined the avenues leading to the International Amphitheater with posters of birds and flowers. While the Democratic Party failed to reach consensus on its stance toward the Vietnam War, thousands of anti-war protesters clashed with police and National Guardsmen.]

SI: Yes, very emotional.

DH: Yes, and it was not an easy time to see Daley in the midst of the convention, and his behavior at that time was just atrocious. It is something the city has not forgotten. This time when we had the Democratic National Convention under the second Daley, we beautified the city. We have the greatest flower pots up and down Michigan Avenue. [laughter] We have repainted our bridges all the way out to the place where it was held, and it just looked great. He was not about to have anything untoward happen in this convention. Yes, I have not forgotten that. [Editor's Note: In 1996, the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago. At this time, Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, served as the mayor of Chicago. The younger Daley held the post from 1989 to 2011.]

SI: On the car ride over, we were talking about the weather in Chicago, and it reminded me that I have seen documentaries about blizzards in Chicago. Are there any memorable blizzard experiences?

DH: You bet. [laughter] We arrived in October of '66 in Chicago, and in the end of January, maybe the beginning of February in '67, we had well over twenty inches of snow. We had house guests just before that happened, who decided to continue their stay with us. It must have been the end of January. That was just before I went to work for Northern Trust in February, and so struggling to get downtown and get through the snow was a big deal for weeks and weeks after that.

There was a wedding the first weekend after the snowstorm that we had been invited to, and the wedding did take place. We managed to get to the church. This was probably a Friday when the snow came and the wedding was on Saturday, but it did not hold up the wedding. We were able to proceed with that, but it took weeks for the city to dig out. That was the first snowstorm.

The second snowstorm was under Mayor Bilandic who kept telling the city that the streets were clear. Now, the main streets were clear, but not the side streets. This went on for several days, several weeks, and the people turned him out of office as a result of what they perceived to be either his lack of awareness or his lies about the condition of the streets because they knew that that was not the case. So, it did upset one of our mayors. [laughter] [Editor's Note: Michael Bilandic served as the mayor of Chicago from 1976 to 1979.]

TF: Weather can be very influential.

SI: Yes. What time is it?

TF: It is almost four o'clock.

SI: Do you want to call it quits, or do you want to keep going?


SI: Is there anything that we have skipped over that you think we should add?

DH: I think we've covered a whole lot of it. I can't think of anything that's really been omitted at this point.

SI: You mentioned the big influences in your life as your mother's cousin and this guidance counselor that have changed the course of your life. Is there anybody else you would talk about?

DH: I suspect if I'd had a different kind of husband I might not have pursued a career. I certainly think that was quite important. I think that participating in community life as a minister's wife is a very different experience. It certainly put us in situations that we would not have encountered as just a member of the community, and I think that's had some influence on how I perceive things today.

One thing we haven't mentioned is that when I got into health care, it was a different kind of venue, so I felt like I needed some background. I had known a woman who was at Northwestern when I was there that I knew was at Cook County Hospital, and I contacted her. She told me about a professional society, the Healthcare Management Systems Society, that produced a lot of papers and have a lot of information that I might find useful. As a result of that, I did become involved in HMSS at that time, which is now HIMSS [Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society] because we took in all the information systems people at some point. I became very active in that group, and I was on the local board. We had a greater Chicago chapter, and I was on the local board there. I was president of that local board. I eventually became active in the national group and participated in some of their committees and then sat on the national board for that society.

Closely allied with that, as we got started with this, was the Institute of Industrial Engineers, IIE, and they had a society for health systems. Initially, there was a combined convention yearly between HIMSS and SHS [Society for Health Systems]. I sat on that board, and I also became president of the Society for Health Systems. That engagement really allowed me to get a broader perspective of where the field was going. I'm not active at this point in either one of them. I'm a member, but I'm not running to all the conferences and so on. I certainly think that engagement helped me to grow a lot, and I met a lot of my peers in other institutions and was able to contact them when there were questions or just pick their brain from time to time and just sort of see what focuses and emphases they were engaged in. I think that has helped me as I've applied my skills and toolset at the University of Chicago Hospital.

SI: Well, if there is nothing else, we will conclude this session, and we thank you very much for sitting with us and being very candid in your answers. Thank you very much.

DH: Well, thank you for your interest.

SI: Enjoy the rest of your reunion.

-----------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-------------------------------------

Reviewed by Taylor McKay 11/11/12
Reviewed by Nicholas Molnar 11/27/12
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 6/12/18


Doreen Hagerty

Rutgers Oral History Update


In 2009, I retired from the University of Chicago Hospitals, as well as my Industrial Engineering profession. Soon thereafter, I moved into an independent living facility that is part of the Presbyterian Homes (CCRC) community, located in Evanston, Illinois.

Since moving into PH, I have served as Resident Advisory Council Chair for six years (4/12-4/18). During this period, I chaired the group meetings, set up committees, met with administrators, created bylaws, and wrote notices of meetings and events. This interval turned out to include a period of change with some turmoil for our community of IL residents.

I have also joined the Pierian Club, which is Evanston's women's group, founded in 1891 whose purpose is "intellectual improvement and broadening of ideas." Every other year, members present original papers based on the theme for the year. My last paper presented in January 2018 was on "The Great Pompeii Project, 2011-2015."

I continue to travel. My most recent trip was to Italy's Amalfi Coast. My reason for going was that I wanted to see Pompeii. My interest was aroused by the paper I presented to the Pierian Club "The Great Pompeii Project, 2011-2015."

I also regularly attend Northwestern alumnae-sponsored classes. Currently, I am taking a class on "Indigenous Peoples in U.S. and Canada."