Ruth Fulton Benedict

1887-1948

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"The trouble with life isn't that there is no answer, it's that there are so many answers" 

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Selected Works by and about Ruth Benedict

Benedict, Ruth                                                                                               
1922 The Concept of the Guardian Spirit in North America. (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University.)  Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association 29:1-97.                                                                                       1934   Patterns of Culture.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.                         1940   Race: Science and Politics.  New York: Modern Age.                     1946   The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture.   Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Caffrey, Margaret M.                                                                                          1989   Ruth Benedict: Stranger in this Land.  Austin: Univeristy of Texas Press.

Mead, Margaret                                                                                                1959   An Anthropologist at Work.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.           1974  Ruth Benedict.   New York: Columbia University.

Mintz, Sidney                                                                                                    1984   Ruth Benedict.  In Totems and Teachers.  Sydel Silverman, ed.   New York: Columbia University Press

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Biography of Ruth Benedict 

Anthropological Theories

                                                                                                                          Sources                                                                                                                   Mead, Margaret  1974  Ruth Benedict. New York: Columbia Univerisity Press.  

Modell, Judith  1989  Ruth Fulton Benedict.  In Women Anthropologists: Selected Biographies.  Ute Gacs, Aisha Khan, Jerrie McIntyre, and Ruth Weinberg, eds.  Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

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Ruth Fulton Benedict was an American cultural anthropologist, widely known for her book Patterns of Culture (1934). 

Ruth always had a love for writing, and penned poetry under the name of Anne Singeton.  Later, Ruth began to write biographies of three feminists: Margaret Fuller, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Olive Schreiner.  She only finished Mary Wollstonecraft, leaving the rest undone due to the lack of enthusiasm from publishers. 

Instead, in the fall of 1919, Ruth enrolled at the New School for Social Research and took two anthropology courses, probably because, she later said, to understand the recent "conflict among nations" (Modell 1989:2).  One of her teachers was Elsie Clews Parsons, who in 1921, decided that Benedict should become an anthropologist. 

Parsons introduced Benedict to Franz Boas at Columbia University, where she also met Margaret Mead and Edward Sapir.  At Columbia, she did her fieldwork among the Serrano Indians (1922), Zuni Pueblo (1924), and later Apache (1931), and Blackfoot Indians (1939). 

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Ruth Benedict with two Blackfeet Men

During the 1930s, while editing the Journal of American Folk-Lore (1924-39) and teaching at Columbia University (1923-31), Ruth Benedict wrote Patterns of CulturePatterns of Culture brought together anthropological, poetic, and personal insights of the past ten years, and became an American Classic.