Marilyn Noble has been a marvel the whole time!

8/6/1938 to 4/23/2024

Friends, many of you will have memories of Marilyn to share, photos, clippings, etc. However, I am not the person to share them with. This page is largely finished and I have moved on to other projects. In the meantime, I urge you to save your materials in a safe place. If I hear of a person or group collecting and sharing, I'll post the contact information here.
Many thanks,

August 8, 2023: Marilyn's 85th Birthday. Sonia Pena photo

Marilyn Noble

Free Speech Movement (mostly)

jump to Marilyn Noble Press below for Claremont/Pomona materials. Press section also has FSM clippings.

Jo Freeman, At Berkeley in the Sixties: The Education of an Activist, 1961-1965 (Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, 2004), page 177
Cited with permission of the author.

During the sit-in around the car, Marilyn Noble, a grad student at Sacramento State College, had walked up to Mario and asked him “Who does your laundry?” Somewhat taken aback, he stuttered, “I—I do.” “Not anymore, she said. Marilyn quickly became housemother and housekeeper of Central, making sure that there was food, clean clothers, and places on the floor to sleep for everyone who needed them.

Bettina Aptheker, Intimate Politics, (Seal Press, Emeryville, 2006), page 135
Cited with permission of the author.

Eventually, Mario’s apartment turned into “FSM Central,” where the steering committee met and two women, Marilyn Noble and Kitty Piper, organized us, manning the phones, providing food, preparing mailings to solicit support and money, and in general taking on the thousand and one tasks necessary to sustain a movement of this magnitude.

December 3, 1964, Santa Rita
L to R: Marilyn Noble discusses bail issues with Bob Treuhaft while SF Chronicle reporter Carolyn Anspacher reports.
Ron Enfield photo.  Used with permission. More from this day here.


The Corporation: How It Came to Be, and Its Plans

After Mario's death in November [1996], Marilyn Noble gave the project crucial focus and impetus by scheduling our meetings at her Oakland home and providing for them lavishly.


Marston Schultz Free Speech Movement Interviews

Includes many menions of Marilyn, as, for example:

David Goines:Then we moved Central down from the hill, to 2536 [College Avenue] and set it up again. At this time, Marilyn Noble was running around doing quite a bit of the shit work that I didn’t want to do. She was manning the phones and cooking food buying groceries. We used her car, and that was . . .
MS: She was . . . she was . . . she was at Deward’s for a while, too . . .
DG: Right. Then Deward kicked us all out, which was a wise move on Deward’s part, and uh . . . otherwise his house would have been torn down instead of 2536 I’m sure . . .
Patti Iiyama: (laughs)
MS: Did you have a lot of room up there? I’ve never been there. DG: No, it was very cramped. Very small. And then 2536 had . . . I got a lot more workers, a lot more regular staff, more telephones, we set up an extension up there but down at 2536 we set up two telephones. After about two weeks the whole works was again running very smoothly, and I left pretty much, although I was still very definitely and very clearly the . . . in charge of it and I would come in and raise hell whenever I wanted which I did whenever I wanted. I would come in maybe two, three times a day. I was also living there. And I lived there for maybe a month or two months.

FSM Women

1984 Reunion photos

Marilyn Noble and B. Meredith Burke (Barbara Goldberg). Michael Rossman photo.

The Women of FSM Central
Oakland, CA

Interview with Marilyn Noble and Kathleen “Kitty” Piper
By Barbara T. Stack
© 2024

Marilyn Noble [edited for brevity]

But I—in fact I wrote my master’s thesis on it [radical student movements], and that turns me to Berkeley, because I was in the process of trying to write my master’s thesis for my professor at Sac State, who just happened to have a lectureship down here at Berkeley in fall of ’64. Just pure happenstance.

And so I was up on the ninth floor (?) Sociology Department at Berkeley, and we’re talking and I look out, and there’s a police car, with a sea of people around it, and I looked at Dr. [Leonard] Cain and I said “What’s going on?’ and he said, “Well, I don’t understand all the details, but something about political activism on campus.” And I took the box of research I had on what I was trying to write, literally, physically shoved it under his desk and said “I think we’ll get to that later. I’m going downstairs to see what’s happening. And I got down there and within a little bit of time—I’m trying to remember whether it was several hours or actually it was working into the next day, but anyhow, when Mario finally climbed off the police car in his stocking feet, I walked over to him and I said, “Who does your laundry?” And of course the man looked at me as if I was utterly insane, and said, “Well, er, ah, I do.” And I said, “You won’t anymore. You just became a public figure. Where do you live?”

And that’s how I got involved. I basically moved in and took over the housekeeping functions, because I’m a one trick pony, but I manage to keep things going. Housewifery is very easy for me, and I put my skill at the use of my interests and my convictions and that’s why I ended up at… FSM Central basically was the old apartment of Mario and a couple of other people. And the other people sort of drifted out as we moved in en masse...


MN: You’ve seen those marvelous pictures in their obviously high-school-graduation suits with—oh, by the way, that’s the back bed she has a story—that was the bedsheet from Jackie Goldberg’s sorority, and I said, “We’ve got to have a sign.” And Jackie said, “I’ll bring the sheet.” I tried to give her sorority back a sheet at the 30th Reunion and found out they no longer exist. I said I’ll go buy the sheet, Jackie. I think it’s time to you gave back a sheet and she said, “Well, they aren’t in business anymore.” I said, “It’s too bad.” But anyhow, so that thing I said, here’s the felt pens, quick, make up the sign on the bedsheet.” So that’s the bedsheet that’s in those famous pictures, but they were all in suits—they had suits to be in; their hair was short—especially—and the other one I told you about—and I cannot remember whether I had to lengthen Tina Aptheker’s skirt or shorten it, but suddenly I ended up with Tina Aptheker’s beautiful wool skirt an hour and a half before a Regent’s Meeting with firm instruction that it had to go up or down, probably down, knowing Tina, sitting there whipping up, fixing her skirt so she could be presentable at the Regent’s Meeting, by her standards. So these were the kinds, you know, this is what I couldn’t understand and I still can’t understand, how they didn’t understand. They had recruited these students, and they didn’t have a clue who they were. That is scary to me. They had recruited them and didn’t have any sense of whom they’d recruited.

And the other thing that you were talking about—community—when things really began to hit the fan, and I was overflowing with workers, I somehow, and you were trying to tell me last night you think it was somebody related to Brian Turner, but the nextdoor house had an upstairs that was not furnished, and it simply became the dormitory. I had too many people on the floor and we were having to run the front office twenty-four hours a day and we could not put people on the floor to sleep so I had to shove them up into the dorm. And I remember talking to whoever owned that house and saying “Now look, I don’t know where I’m going to find the money for this, because of course I was trying to run the finances of this place on top of everything else, and he said, “Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.” And people would come in through this famous window when the door wouldn’t open, and I had a coffee can sitting in the kitchen and people would drop in ten and twenty dollar bills. And then I’d go to the coffee can and see how much money I had to go buy groceries for the next day.

May 28, 2001: Oakland: Memorial Day 2001

A small group of FSM vets and friends gathered at Marilyn Noble's house in Oakland for a BBQ on Memorial Day 2001. L to R: Karen McLellan, Mateo Dewberry, Kathleen Donnelly, Marilyn

2004: FSM@40: Free Speech in a Dangerous Time

And the Spirit Moved Us: Religion and the FSM: Walter Herbert, Marilyn Noble, Dustin Miller
Anita Medal photo. Used with permission.

August 6, 2008: Berkeley: Marilyn's 70th Birthday Party

In the tradition of the Civil Rights Movement's "Movement Mamas"

Marilyn was verklempt
Front row L to R: Gar Smith, Steve "Jake" Jacobson, Thom Irwin, Susan Druding, Lee Felsenstein
Top row: Arnie Passman, Karen McLellan, Marilyn Noble, Anita Medal, John Sutake, Kathleen Donnelly, Lynne Hollander
Barbara Stack photos

August 2, 2009: San Francisco: Richmond/Ermet AIDS Fndn Gala: Michael Grammer & Marilyn

May 31, 2018: Retirement

Anita Medal photo. Used with permission.


Marilyn Noble Press


9/21/2023, Thw Clairmont Courrier, Andrew Alonzo, The history underfoot: ‘Stories from the East and West Barrios’ at Ginger Elliott

"Claremont Heritage was awarded $5,000 last year from California Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities, which it used to fund community educational projects such as “Stories from the East and West Barrios,” as well as a scrapbook by longtime Arbol Verde resident Marilyn Noble, and to fund a documentary film, “Stories from the Barrios,” which will be screened at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 28 at Claremont Graduate University’s Albrecht Auditorium, 925 N. Dartmouth Ave."


9/28/2004, Contra Costa Times & Knight Ridder News Service syndication, Free speech at 40, Martin Snapp

"[Marilyn] Noble's vantage point as den mother gave her a unique view. 'As I was cooking in the kitchen, I listened to the arguments going on, and I was struck by their scholarship and sophistication. These were highly educated people trying to figure out how to do the right thing. It was like listening to the founding fathers debating the Declaration of Independence. I kept thinking, 'The administration are idiots if they don't realize what they're up against.'"


5/4/1965, Miami Herald, 'Free Speech' Leader Looks At Campus Protest, Martha Ingle

"Marilyn [Noble] predicts that the movement is not over yet. 'I thought it was licked in December. The FSM officially disbanded but it was reconstituted in March. After the student body voted that graduate students should have a voice in campus government, the board of regents nullified the election. Now everybody is upset.'"

5/4/1965, Miami Herald, 'Free Speech' Leader Looks At Campus Protest, Martha Ingle


December 5, 1964: The San Francisco Examiner, p9
December 5, 1964: The San Francisco Examiner, p9


December 1, 1964: Santa Barbara News Press

December 1, 1964: Santa Barbara News Press
"and Marilyn Noble, of Berkeley, co-ordinating secretary for the Free Speech Movement there."


December 1, 1964: Santa Barbara News Press

December 1, 1964: Santa Barbara News Press
"...Theodore Kornweibel Jr. said the local cause had been advanced by four FSM members who came here last week and by Mario Savio and Marilyn Noble, who were on the campus yesterday."

If I hadn't found these articles I would not have known that FSMers had visited universities in southern California.


April 5, 1964: Progress Bulletin

April 5, 1964: Progress Bulletin

April 5, 1964 Progress_Bulletin
page 2, sec. 2
• • •

As Others See It … By Readers

Editor, Progress Bulletin:
We want to tell you how much we enjoyed your article in last Saturday's Scan about "our" Marilyn Noble.

Yes, we are indeed very fortunate to have her for a neighbor and very much proud to think of her as "ours."

Her unselfish devotion toward our youngsters makes us feel that praise and thanks are inadequate for a person such as she.

You omitted a few more of her many accomplishments: Like helping students have enough faith in themselves to graduate from high school. Especially when there are so many drop-outs among us Mexican-Americans;

Lending her typewriter and having to do without it for weeks, so small, income tax business could get on its feet;

This and a million other things she has done cheerfully every day;

A sunny smile, a word of encouragement, also, where needed, a good talking to.

We know that the other parents in the "Barrio" feel the same way we do about Marilyn. We are pleased that you have brought '''The Marilyn Noble Story" to the attention of all your readers.

We thank you for letting people know about this remarkable young lady who lives up to her name "Noble." We hope this isn't the last time you print her story. But do so from time to time just to let her know how nice we think she is and how grateful we feel towards her for the wonderful work site's doing among our children. --Mr, and Mrs. Robert Aguilar.


March 21, 1964: Pomona, CA: Progress-Bulletin, p3

March 21, 1964: Pomona, CA: Progress-Bulletin, p3
Marilyn remembers that the use of the name "Ann" was an error on their part.

July 4, 1946: The Valley Times

July 4, 1946: The Valley Times


June 25, 1949: The Ventura County Star-Free Press

June 25, 1949: The Ventura County Star-Free Press
"the only child of Marjorie and Stanford Noble"


Other Notable Family Members
Maurice Noble (uncle)
Wikipedia: Maurice James Noble was an American animation production designer, background artist and layout designer whose contributions to the industry spanned more than 60 years. He was a long-time associate and right-hand man of animation director Chuck Jones, especially at Warner Bros. in the 1950s.

Larry Shaw (cousin)

Wikipedia: Lawrence N. Shaw (August 12, 1939 – August 19, 2017) was an American physicist, curator, and artist. Shaw worked at the Exploratorium, a San Francisco science museum, for 33 years, performing just about every function for the museum. He was a key member of the arts and technology community in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Inventor of Pi Day