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Women of the Hall

Year Honored: 1976
Birth: 1901 - Death: 1978
Born In: ,
Died In: ,
Achievements: Science
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Margaret Mead

Her father taught economics at the Wharton School, but Margaret had to struggle to persuade him to send her to college. At Barnard she studied with Franz Boas and his brilliant student Ruth Benedict. They convinced her to join them in a new science, anthropology, devoted to the study of varieties of human culture. Over Boas's opposition Margaret went by herself to Samoa to do field work. The result was a tremendously popular and influential book, Coming of Age in Samoa. Adolescence, she argued, is not inevitably a time of stress and conflict. While portraying the free and easy Samoan life, she was critical of American society for shrouding sexuality in secrecy. Mead went on to a career of brilliant field work. While other anthropologists spent a lifetime studying one primitive tribe, she studied half a dozen. In the 1920s and 30s the Pacific Islands and New Guinea still offered conditions that tested a scholar's mettle. "The natives are superficially agreeable," she once wrote home, "but they go in for cannibalism, headhunting, infanticide, incest, avoidance and joking relationships, and biting lice in half with their teeth." She pushed back the boundaries of her science, and her clear style of writing and public speaking brought advanced ideas to the general public.
Additional Sources:
Howard, Jane. Margaret Mead: a Life. New York: Ballantine Books, 1985, c1984. NOTES: ""A Fawcett Crest book."" Includes index. Bibliography: p. 497-513.

Freeman, Derek. Margaret Mead and Samoa: the Making and Unmaking Anthopologist Myth. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Eng.; New York: Penguin Books, 1984. NOTES: ""Pelican books"" series. Originally published; Cambridge, massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1983. Includes bibliographical references and index.

With Nancy Lutkehaus. Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years. Kodansha International, Reprint Edition, 1995, c1972.

Male and Female: The Classic Study of the Sexes. Quill, Reprint ed., 1996, c1949.

Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation. Harper Perennial, 2001, 1928.

Growing Up in New Guinea. New York: W. Morrow & Company, 1930.

Sex and Terperament in Three Primitive Societies.
Papers and South Pacific Ethnographic Archives 1838-1987 (bulk 1911-1978), 522,446 items. Library of Congress, Manuscript Division. Washington, D.C.

Correspondence 1955-, ca 40 items. American Academy of Arts and Letters, Library and Archives. New York City, New York.