“It’s all one world. There are no islands anymore.”
Margaret Mead (1901–1978)
Barnard 1923; PhD 1929
Faculty 1934–35, 1941–42, 1948–49, 1951–78
Mead was instrumental in extending and popularizing anthropological concepts of culture. As a professor, intrepid researcher, author, speaker, and museum curator, she bridged the gap between the academy and popular culture. She first made her mark with Coming of Age in Samoa, published in 1928 and based on original fieldwork done for her PhD at Columbia. The book, which focused on adolescent sexuality, was an instant best seller and remains in print today; it has been read by some as a tacit critique of the suppression of teenage sexuality in the United States. Throughout her life, Mead's work focused on problems of child-rearing, personality, and culture and in the process assured the inclusion of perspectives of women and children within the scope of anthropological work. Two of her more important works were Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935) and Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing World (1949).