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The Summer School for Women Workers: Diversity, Class and Education

"Here I have found a place for myself": Personal reflections: The summer school experience in women's own words: Oral histories

Part 1 of an interview conducted by Rita Heller as part of the Women of Summer documentary with Elizabeth Nord. Recording donated to Bryn Mawr College by Rita Heller

As part of the Women of Summer documentary, interviews were conducted with women who were students of the Summer School. The tapes were donated to the Bryn Mawr College Archives by the film maker Rita Rubinstein Heller, Bryn Mawr College '59, and are now part of the Oral History archive which is currently being digitized and will be made available on Triptych when the project is finished.

This audio interview was recorded in summer 1976 with former labor leader Elizabeth Nord of Providence Rhode Island, who attended the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry during the sessions of 1922 and 1924. The following summary is provided by Lianna Reed, Bryn Mawr College class of 2014:

Part 2 of interview with Elizabeth Nord by Rita Heller

Elizabeth Nord was an active member of the unions before and after her time at Bryn Mawr. The interview takes place over fifty years after her attendance at the Summer School. She notes that one of the dominant memories she has is that everyone was working to improve the social and working aspects of those in the field. Nord started working when she was 14 and went to night school to keep up with her academics because she loved being in school. She worked as a weaver which she reminisces was something that she actually liked doing. Nord heard about the Summer School at Bryn Mawr College from the YWCA where she met girls whom she admired and thus wanted to be just like them. Nord also worked at the Barnard Summer School (a similar operation) as a tutor. 

Nord discusses a few people she remembers at Bryn Mawr including Amy Hughes, Susan Kingsbury, and Hilda Smith. Upon leaving the institute Nord went back to work in the factory until 1934 and then became a labor organizer which she continued to do for the rest of her career. She went on to be a trustee for the international labor union as well as a member of the appeals board.