Margaret Mead (1901-1978) was an American anthropologist well known for her research and writings on gender and culture in "primitive" societies and the implications of that research for humanity in general. Her 1928 book, Coming of Age in Somoa, was a bestseller and remains a classic in the literature of anthropology. In her later years, her prolific writings, frequent lectures, media interviews, and highly visible social activism made her the best known anthropologist of the 20th century. Her writings -- 20 books and numerous articles -- and spoken words continue to be often quoted by social and environmental activists, including perhaps most famously, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world."
She was affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History in New York for more than 50 years, serving for several years as Curator of Ethnology in the Department of Anthropology. The museum credits Mead as largely responsible for many of the artifacts on display in its Hall of Pacific Peoples, related to her field research in Bali, New Guinea and Somoa, among other places.
Mead studied anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University in the early 1920s and later taught at Columbia and the New School for Social Research. She served as president of the American Anthropological Association (1960) and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1975). For the latter, she was the organization's second female president since its establishment in 1848. She received numerous honorary degrees and academic awards and, following her death in 1978, she was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- American Museum of Natural History biography of Margaret Mead
- Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics Summary Biography of Margaret Mead
- Institute for Intercultural Studies
- Bateson, Mary Catherine. 1984. With a Daughter's Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. New York: Harper Collins.
- Howard, Jane. 1984. Margaret Mead: A Life. Ballantine Books.