Margaret Mead

1901-1979

 

     
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Margaret Mead "Life in the twentieth century is like a parachute jump-you have to get it right  the first time"
 
 

Links of Interest

*Pacific Art
*New Guinea Sculpture Gardens
*Ferns and Man  New Guinea
*Map etc. of Papua New Guinea

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Margaret with Paulo 
(Letters from the Field, 1977)

Sources

Freeman, Derek
1983  Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth.    Cambridge:  Harvard University Press.

Mead, Margaret
1928 Coming of Age in Samoa.  New York:  William Morrow
 1930  Growing Up in New Guinea.  New York:  William Morrow
1977 Letters From the Field 1925-1975.  New York: Harper & Rowe.

Thornhill, Gill 
1993  Margaret Mead.  In Columbia Encyclopedia, 5th  Edition.  Columbia University Press.

Whiteford, Andrew, Ph.D.
1999  Interview with Catherine Klein

Yans-McLaughlin, Virginia   1988 Margaret Mead. In Women Anthropologists:  A Biographical Dictionary.  Ute Gacs, Aisha Khan,  Jerrie McIntyre, Ruth Weinberg, eds. Pp. 251-260.   New York:  Greenwood Press.
 
 

Selected  Works By Margaret Mead

1928a    Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilization.  New York:  William Morrow

1935  Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies.   New York:  William Morrow.

1972  Blackberry Winter:  My Earlier years.  New York:  William Morrow.

1978  Letters from the Field, 1925-1975.  New York:   Harper & Rowe.
 


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    Margaret Mead was arguably the most renowned anthropologist of all time, contributing to the development of the discipline, as well as, introducing its insights to thousands of people outside the academy. Her work continues to contribute to the understanding of people around the world today. A prolific writer, she  produced 44 books and more than 1,000 articles.  Her publishings were translated into many languages.

     The oldest of four children, Mead was born on December 16, 1901 in Philadelphia.  She was a graduate of Barnard College and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1929.  While attending Barnard, she developed a keen interest in anthropology.  It was there she met Ruth Benedict and Franz Boas, who became intellectual influences on Mead at Columbia.  Boaz  supervised her first research in Samoa.

    Mead focused on child-rearing and personality in SamoaNew Guinea, and Bali resulting in such   ethnographies as Coming of Age in Samoa in 1928 and Growing Up in New Guinea in 1930.  In Bali she pioneered the use of photography for anthropological research, taking over 30,000 photographs of the Balinese.

     Margaret Mead held positions with the American Museum of Natural History  from 1926, and retired as emeritus  curator of ethnology  in 1969.   She held prominent positions in various organizations and received numerous awards.  Mead served as president of the Society for Applied Anthropology, the World Federation of Mental Health, and the American Anthropological Association.  She was the first woman anthropologist to become president of the American Association for the Advancement of  Science.  She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1979.

    "Maggie was a short little lady with immense courage-a first of a kind-took nothing for granted and wrote copiously of her field experience.  She could be disarmingly friendly one minute and put you in your place the next" (Andrew Whiteford, Ph.D., 1999).


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Mead carrying Piwen 
(Letters from the Field, 1977)

    In recent years,  some of Mead's early research on Samoa has been questioned,  most notably by Australian  anthropologist Derek Freeman, who argues that she was wrong about Samoan norms on sexuality. Nevertheless, her life-time achievements eclipse the controversy surrounding her earliest fieldwork.  We celebrate Margaret Mead, a woman anthropologist who was a strong proponent of women's rights, who shone a light of understanding on human nature, and a clear and forceful entity who provided much knowledge to the field of anthropology and psychology.

"To cherish the life of the world..." Margaret Mead.