Bertha Rodeman Brenny and Emma Rodeman Oral History
Bertha Rodeman Brenny (Aug 5, 1906 – May 26, 2001) was born in Graham Township, Benton County Minnesota to Frank and Matilda Walz Rodeman. Bertha attended both St. Cloud State and University of Minnesota where she received her teaching degrees. She was a teacher for 37 years and taught in schools in Foley and Pierz, Minnesota. During her life, Bertha was involved in many churches and institutions in the area, including Gilman Knights of Columbus, Gilman Christian Mothers, Benton County Teachers Association, and 4-H. In 1930, Bertha married Peter Brenny Sr. Peter passed away in 1979.
Bertha’s sister, Emma Rodeman (Aug 13, 1908 – November 30, 1989), was born in Mayhew Lake Township, Benton County, Minnesota. She graduated from St. Cloud State in 1947 with a two year degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in 1953. Like her sister Bertha, Emma taught in Minnesota public district schools.
In two interviews conducted on July 23 and August 2, 1973 Bertha and Emma Rodeman discussed their experiences of methods of schooling and education both as teachers and pupils as well as the changes in school systems through the 1900s. They recalled how German was the only language they knew until starting school and how they were first introduced to the English language through the alphabet and arithmetic. The sisters described how they went to school with no paper or pencils, no indoor bathrooms, no running water, and how stoves heated classrooms. They also recall how they did not have well equipped libraries until they got to high school at St. Ben’s. They chronicled their time at St. Cloud State, including the Old Main building.
Bertha and Emma described public school teaching careers. They talked about the ways education materials were first introduced to students and how textbooks were required by the state during the time as well as supplementary materials consisting of notebooks, pencils, crayons, maps and dictionaries. Bertha remembered during 1950s and 1960s they had film strip machines, recorders, telephones and even overhead projectors equipped in schools.
Interviewed by Thomas Raiche
St. Cloud State University, "Bertha Rodeman Brenny and Emma Rodeman Oral History" (1973). General. 5.