Margaret Mead was a famous anthropologist and writer who studied culture, and she was born on December 16, 1901, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Margaret was well known in her community and throughout the world, and she was often invited to speak and lecture at special events.
Many people who want to know as much as possible about Margaret Mead wish to know what this great woman studied in the 1930s.
In the 1930s, Margaret Mead conducted a study on cultural variation, and she performed most of her research on people who were native to New Zealand, Samoa, New Guinea, and similar Oceanic areas.
The purpose of Mead’s studies on cultural variation was to determine whether a person’s temperament was based on cultural influences or if they were inherited.
Mead frequently visited Samoa, New Zealand, and other areas overseas in order to gather data for her studies.
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Margaret Mead’s parents did not work as anthropologists.
Her father, Edward Sherwood Mead, was a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and he taught finance.
Margaret’s mother, Emily Mead, was a sociologist who studied Italian immigrants.
Mead only had one sibling, a younger sister, who died at the tender age of nine months, and her sister’s death traumatized Mead for years.
Margaret earned several degrees over the course of her life; she completed her undergraduate work at Barnard College, and then she went on to complete her master’s degree in anthropology at Columbia University.
She later earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, as well.
Margaret met many professors and other anthropologists while she was in school who helped with her studies over the years.
Margaret Mead married three times, her first husband was Luther Cressman, and they married in 1923 and divorced in 1928.
Soon after her divorce from her first husband, Mead was married to her second husband until 1935, and his name was Reo Fortune.
In 1936, Mead married her third husband, Gregory Bateson, who also eventually became an anthropologist, and the couple had a daughter together, Mary Bateson.
Margaret Mead and her third husband divorced in 1950.
Margaret and Gregory’s daughter, Mary, followed in her parent’s footsteps, especially her mother’s, and she also became a cultural anthropologist and writer.
Mary considered herself to be an activist for peace and justice, and she had many published writings on her work, just like her mother.
Mead died of pancreatic cancer on November 15, 1978, and is buried at Trinity Episcopal Church Cemetery, Buckingham, Pennsylvania.
Even after Margaret’s death, she was still recognized for her great work, and in January of 1979, the United States president, Jimmy Carter, awarded Margaret the Presidential Medal of Freedom award, which was accepted by her daughter, Mary.
Margaret studied different cultures in order to better understand them in various ways.
She also fought for cultural fairness, which was a major contribution and has positively impacted how the world handles and treats various cultures today.
Many anthropologists have questioned Mead’s views many years after her death, but Mead’s teachings continue to have a positive impact on the world.
Margaret has had many jobs, and her most notable place of employment was when she was appointed as curator of ethnology at the American “Museum of Natural History” in 1926.
Another notable career that Margaret enjoyed was when she was president of the Society for “Applied Anthropology” in 1950 as well as the “American Anthropology Association” ten years later, in 1960.
Mead, later on, became the vice president of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Margaret Mead had many published works, and her very first book, which became bestselling, was called Coming of Age in Samoa.
It was published in 1926, during the same time she became the curator at the American Museum for Natural History.
Her second book was published two years later and was titled, Growing up in New Guinea.
Her other books consist of:
- The Changing Culture of an Indian Tribe – published in 1932
- Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies – published in 1935
- And Keep Your Powder Dry: An Anthropologist Looks at America – published in 1942
- Male and Female – published in 1949
- New Lives for Old: Cultural Transformation in Manus, 1928–1953 – published in 1956
- People and Places – published in 1959; a book for young readers
- Continuities in Cultural Evolution – published in 1964
- Culture and Commitment – published in 1970
- The Mountain Arapesh: Stream of events in Alitoa – published in 1971
- Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years – published in 1972; autobiography
Some anthropologists came along after Mead’s death and studied her books as well as her specific beliefs.
One anthropologist, in particular, felt that Mead didn’t have a full understanding of what she wrote about regarding Samoan children coming of age and their sexuality.
This anthropologist, Derek Freeman, went so far as to publish a book that spoke against Mead’s books, and freely stated that Mead was confused.
In 2009, an in-depth review of Margaret’s work, as well as Freeman’s criticisms, found that Mead’s beliefs and books were “essentially correct,” and that Freeman misinterpreted what Mead had written.
In 2015, another book was published that was in defense of Margaret’s published books and beliefs.
The book, called, “Galileo’s Middle Finger,” by Alice Dreger, argues that Freeman’s accusations were unfounded as well as misleading.
Mead was also passionate about people of different races not being treated fairly when it came to testing their intelligence.
She believed that there were three problems when it came to testing the intelligence of different races.
First of all, Margaret believed that in order to accurately interpret IQ scores, it was necessary to determine what percentage of a person’s blood was African American or Indian.
Mead also believed that social status had a great deal to do with a person’s IQ scores, but she argued that this was never taken into consideration.
Additionally, Mead believed that there were many personality differences between men and women living in the same towns or villages.
She felt that instead of being based on their genetics, their personality differences were based more on their specific cultural influences.
From 1948–1950, Mead studied Russian culture and the Russians’ attitudes toward authority.
While studying Russian culture, Mead worked for the RAND Corporation, a US Air Force military-funded private research organization.
Working for this organization made it easy for Margaret to gather the appropriate information that she needed to conduct her study on Russian culture.
Margaret Mead was a very notable cultural anthropologist, and she contributed a great deal of data on different cultures throughout the world.
She fought for equality and fairness, which has changed the way IQ tests are conducted today.
Margaret Mead will always be remembered for her hard work that helped to make many positive changes to society, and some of these changes still exist today.