Margaret Mead – American anthropologist and psychologist

Margaret Mead

December 16 1901, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – November 15 1978, New York City, USA (aged 76)
Nationality: United States of America
Category: Scientists
Occupation: Psychologists, Culturologists
Unique distinction: The most famous cultural anthropologist in the world, author of the “Coming of Age in Samoa” (1928)
Gender: Female

1. Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.
2. Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.
3. Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.
4. We are continually faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems.
5. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
6. I was brought up to believe that the only thing worth doing was to add to the sum of accurate information in the world.
7. Many societies have educated their male children on the simple device of teaching them not to be women.
8. I learned the value of hard work by working hard.
9. What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.
10. One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.
11. Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment and wonder that which one would not have been able to guess. 12. If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.

Achievements and contributions:

Social and professional position: American cultural anthropologist, psychologist, writer and activist.
The main contribution to (best known for): She was one of the most famous anthropologists in the world. Her works introduced the concept of culture into education, medicine, and public policy and popularized anthropology into modern Western culture. She was regarded as one of the outstanding women of the XX century.

Contributions in science: 

Margaret Mead was an American cultural anthropologist, psychologist and writer.
She developed the field of culture and personality research and was a dominant influence in introducing the concept of culture into education, medicine, and public policy.
She was a popularizer of anthropology in modern American and Western culture.
Her fieldwork was carried out primarily among the peoples of Oceania. She made expeditions to the island of Samoa (1925-1926), Admiralty Islands (1928-1929), in New Guinea (1931-1933), Bali and New Guinea (1936-1939).
She studied adolescent and sexual behaviour among primitive tribes. Mead concluded that there is no conflict between generations and the difficulty of socialization of adolescents in a traditional society.
Her theories caused later 20th-century anthropologists to question both the accuracy of her observations and the soundness of her conclusions.
The Balinese study was especially noteworthy for the development of new field techniques.  Her extensive use of film made it possible to record and analyze significant minutiae of behaviour that escaped the pencil-and-paper ethnographer.
Thus, she brought back from Bali more than 38,000 photographs.
Later Mead’s interest in psychiatry had turned her attention to the problem of the cultural context of schizophrenia. A student and collaborator of Ruth Benedict, she focused her interests on problems of child-rearing, personality, and culture.
She also stressed the need for anthropologists to understand the perspective of women and children.
He was also active with the World Federation for Mental Health. She also co-founded the Parapsychological Association, a group advocating for the advancement of parapsychology and psychical research.
A prolific writer and avid speaker who enjoyed engaging the general public, Mead was instrumental in popularizing the anthropological concept of culture with readers in the United States.
Her reports about the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures amply informed the 1960s sexual revolution. She was a proponent of broadening sexual mores within Western Culture.
She became a prominent voice on such wide-ranging issues as women’s rights and nuclear proliferation.
Major works: The first and most famous of her 23 books, Coming of Age in Samoa (1928). Other – Growing Up in New Guinea, (1930), Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935), Male and Female (1949),  Continuities in Cultural Evolution (1964), The Family, 1965, Culture and Commitment (1970).

Career and personal life:

Origin: Margaret Mead was born on December 16, 1901, in West Park Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mead was the first of five children, born into a Quaker family. Her father, Edward Sherwood Mead, was a professor at the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce and the founder of the University of Pennsylvania’s evening school. Her mother, Emily Fogg Mead, was a sociologist and an early advocate of women’s rights.
Education: In 1919 Mead entered DePauw University but transferred after a year to Barnard College, where she majored in psychology.

Career highlights: 

She studied with Professor Franz Boas and Dr. Ruth Benedict at Columbia University. They had a great influence on her and determined her decision to become an anthropologist. She graduated from Barnard College in 1923.
Soon she graduated from Columbia University where she earned her master’s degree in psychology in 1924.
Before earning her Master’s Mead set out to do fieldwork in Polynesia.
She received her Ph.D. (anthropology) from Columbia University in 1929.
She served in curatorial positions at the American Museum of Natural History for over 50 years.
After 1954 she served as an adjunct professor of anthropology at Columbia. In later life, Mead was a mentor to many young anthropologists and sociologists.

Personal life: 

Margaret Mead was born on December 16, 1901, in Philadelphia and grew up there in a liberal intellectual atmosphere.
She was married three times. Her first marriage, from 1923 to 1928, was to Luther Cressman, a theological student.
The second spouse was New Zealander anthropologist Reo Fortune.
Her third marriage (1936-1950) was to British anthropologist Gregory Bateson, with whom she had a daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson who would also become an anthropologist.
Margaret Mead died on November 15, 1978.
She was buried at Trinity Episcopal Church in Buckingham, Pennsylvania.
Zest: Early in his career, Dr. Benjamin Spock was her paediatrician for the baby. Mead was a champion of broadened sexual mores within the context of traditional Western religious life.
She spent her last years in a close personal and professional collaboration with anthropologist Rhoda Metraux. Letters between the two clearly express a romantic relationship.
In 1949, the American publishers called her the “Outstanding Woman of the Year in Science”, and in 1956 – one of the outstanding women of the XX century.