Kate Bracher interviewed by Ree Robson
January 13, 2020
A former Astronomy professor, Kate Bracher was the sole Astronomy faculty member at Whitman College for much of her career. Hired in 1967, Bracher was one of very few female professors at Whitman at the time. Later in her career, the department doubled when Andrea Dobson was hired. Throughout her career, Bracher took the time to share her love of astronomy with students, inspiring and fascinating many. She was also involved in the Renaissance Faire club on campus and participated in many of their events as a musician. Although Bracher was not openly out during her career at Whitman, many colleagues and students knew. In 1998, she retired to live with her formerly long distance partner, another professor, in Texas. Since then, they have moved to Maine.
This interview was slightly unusual in that this interview was technically conducted for Robson to ask thesis-related questions. However, Bracher gave permission for this interview to be shared and so it was added to the collection. In this interview, Bracher shares how she managed to get her position at Whitman that became her life-long career. Bracher discusses what she remembered of the culture, for students and faculty, at Whitman during her early years at Whitman. Bracher acknowledges that while she cared about certain issues, she was only minimally involved in any activism at Whitman and so was not party to many conversations happening on campus. Similarly, since she remained closeted to most during her career, she was not very actively involved in the LGBTQ+ community, although she was friends with other LGBTQ+ faculty and students. She spends some time reflecting on her unique position as the sole professor of a department and the opportunities that presented. At the end of the interview, Bracher shares a little of what she has been up to in her retirement in the over twenty years since she left Whitman.
1 digital audio recording: 01:23:42
Whitman College and Northwest Archives, Whitman College LGBTQ+ Oral History Project Recordings and Transcripts, WCA159
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