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Elizabeth B. Rawlins

Elizabeth B. Rawlins, dean and professor emeritus at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, was recognized for her effective and tireless dedication to numerous educational and community organizations in Boston, across private and public higher education in Massachusetts, over a fifty-year period. Born on November 25, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Rawlins attended the local public schools and graduated from Cambridge High and Latin School in 1944.

After high school, Rawlins attended Salem State Teachers College, where she earned her B.S. degree in education in 1950; from there she became an elementary school teacher in urban and suburban public schools, and in private schools in Massachusetts. From 1953 to 1954, Rawlins taught at Narimasu Elementary School in Tokyo, Japan. After earning her master’s degree in urban education from Simmons College in 1967, Rawlins left elementary school teaching and began working as a lecturer at Simmons, where she was an associate professor by 1976. From 1979 to 1992, Rawlins served as the associate dean of the Human Services Program; she became a professor of education in 1991, the same year that she received her Ed.D. degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

For ten years, Rawlins served as chairperson of the Salem State College board of trustees; she also served as a board member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and a member of the Simmons College Corporation. Rawlins also served as president of the Massachusetts Association of Mental Health; between 1982 and 1988, she served on the Education Commission of the States.

During her long career at Simmons, Rawlins often addressed racially sensitive issues; the establishment of the Elizabeth B. Rawlins Scholarship Fund at Simmons, and the Salem State College Rawlins Oratorical Contest are testaments to her leadership and contributions to higher education in Massachusetts, and the respect she earned in the process.

After her retirement in 1992, Rawlins served on the advisory council to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, and as the vice president of the Martha’s Vineyard branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Accession Number

A2005.146

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/22/2005

Last Name

Rawlins

Maker Category
Middle Name

B.

Schools

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

Martin Luther King Jr. School

Salem State University

University of Massachusetts Amherst

First Name

Elizabeth

Birth City, State, Country

Cambridge

HM ID

RAW02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

11/25/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

Academic administrator, education professor, and elementary school teacher Elizabeth B. Rawlins (1927 - ) served as the associate dean of the Human Services Program and a professor of education at Simmons College.

Employment

Raytheon

Buckingham School

Simmons College

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Elizabeth B. Rawlins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her maternal grandmother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls being raised by her grandmother in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her community in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins details her maternal ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her relationship with her younger brother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her time at Cambridge's Houghton School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls being dissuaded from a teaching career

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her educational experience in Cambridge

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her time at Cambridge High and Latin School, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her time at Cambridge High and Latin School, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls working for Raytheon in Watertown, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her first year at Salem Teachers College

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her financial challenges as a college student

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her early teaching career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls teaching at Cambridge's Buckingham School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes applying to teach in Japan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her relationship with her husband, Keith W. Rawlins, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her teaching experience in Tokyo, Japan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes the teaching careers of Boston-area African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her children

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins talks about her children and grandchildren

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls becoming a lecturer at Boston's Simmons College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls her teaching experience at Simmons College, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls her teaching experience at Simmons College, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls becoming associate dean at Simmons College

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her role as associate dean at Simmons College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls Salem State College establishing a graduate social work program

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes serving on the Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher Education, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes serving on the Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher Education, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes chairing Salem State College's board of trustees

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes Simmons College's involvement in school desegregation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins remembers students from her tenure at Simmons College

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes leading black alumni symposia at Simmons College, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes leading black alumni symposia at Simmons College, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins reflects upon her life, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins reflects upon sharing her story

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins reflects upon her life, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins describes organizations she belongs to on Martha's Vineyard

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Elizabeth B. Rawlins narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls being dissuaded from a teaching career
Elizabeth B. Rawlins recalls her teaching experience at Simmons College, pt. 1
Transcript
When I got ready to go to high school [Cambridge High and Latin School; Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Cambridge, Massachusetts] and choose my program, I chose college because I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I--I didn't think about what it cost or how I was gonna pay for it. I didn't think about that, I just knew that's what I wanted to do. My [maternal] grandmother [Grace Hawkins Williams], by this time, was about eighty-two or three years old, you know. And she'd had a couple of heart attacks, but she was really a very strong woman. She didn't pay a lot of attention to what the doctor said, so she was up on her feet sooner than she should have been. And so when I got ready to go, the eighth grade teacher [at Houghton School; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School, Cambridge, Massachusetts] I had, who was also the principal's assistant, looked at what I'd chosen and told me that I really needed to choose another course because they were not really hiring black teachers, she said colored teachers then and I would want to get a job. I will never ever forget it. And when I talked with my grandmother about it, she said you know, "I just can't fight, I can't go up tho- I can't climb those stairs. Maybe if you take," what did she tell me, "take something with typing," this is the secretary, "so you'll be able to get this job if you're not able to teach." And I was distressed, but I did it. That's the way kids did then, you know. My minister who had heard me talk about wanting to teach since I've been that high during the first term said to me, "How you doing," you know, and that sort of thing. And I said, "Well, I'm not in the program I want," and told him the story. And he wrote a letter to the dean of--of students and the next day I was in what they called the normal course because this--we were on the fringes then in the '40s [1940s] of normal school and college. So that the on--thing that I missed taking was Latin. Everything else was like a college course. And that was my first racial experience. The first time I ran into somebody saying I couldn't do something on the basis of race that I recognized anyway. It turned out okay because I did it.$How was that transition for you leaving the teaching in elementary school and becoming a instructor--teacher at a place like Simmons College [Boston, Massachusetts]? How was that--how did that transition feel?$$It was scary, really. I remember it as--Erma Brooks asked me, you know, she--she said what we're asking here is what you've been doing for, at that point, thirteen or fourteen years. I had taught several of the grades. I had run some workshops. I, you know, I had done like with Circle Associates [Circle Inc., Boston, Massachusetts] and all of that. Said that's what we need, that's what the students are asking for that kind of experience. So, you know, te--teach the course in Nature of Classroom Teaching. And frankly I thought well it would be convenient because of my daughter [Pattie Rawlins] and her age and so forth. So I approached one of the faculty in the ed [education] department and said to her, "Lydia [ph.], I don't see anywhere that teachers, professors have been taught to teach and so how about some hints for me." She said, "You're right, we haven't been taught to teach, but--so you have all the skills and knowledge and pedagogy and so forth, and we just have the information and we should make a good team." So I taught thinking the way I did teaching elementary and junior high kids, that you gotta have a plan. You have to know what you're gonna teach. You gotta do something to engage them. And that was always the way. And--and that you have to think about the whole person. So I approached it in that way. And as long as I was doing the urban teacher prep program, I was really fine. But then, when these black students who began to come and saw that they were not in the material anywhere, wanted somebody to teach thinking about that and approached me. (Laughter) I thought I was--might be getting a little above my head, but what I did was to ask them to help me plan what it was they were talking about. That's because that's not been my experience. What you wa- I know what it is you want, but it hasn't been my experience so I need you to be engaged in this, and they were, they were wonderful.