The Life and Career of Margerat Mead

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Margaret Mead was one of the most influential anthropologists of the 20th century. Before she and other women like her entered the field of anthropology the study of other cultures was highly male chauvinistic. When Mead studied other cultures she focused mainly on child rearing practices, development of personality, and the women of the culture. Until this time the only perspective that was given by anthropologists was generally that of the adult males. She also helped to bring about the discipline of visual anthropology. Throughout her career she was involved in many programs that helped society in many ways. She was born in Philadelphia on December 16, 1901 and died in New York City on November 15, 1978, at the age of 77, of cancer.

Margaret's childhood had a lot to do with her career. As a child her parents encouraged intellectual growth and put a great value on education.

Her parents were always encouraging Margaret to participate in activities that would help in a future career. Ways that they did this were varied: they put her in charge of cataloging the plant life of the areas where they lived, keeping track of her siblings' progress and growth, and keeping a family record of births, deaths, and important events. All of these things helped in her organizational skills which helped her do field work much more quickly then any other anthropologist of her time; she did 7 ethnographies in 10 years. Another reason that Mead could master a culture so quickly is that she had a photographic memory, this skill enabled her to learn languages in very little time. Also she stated that she had learned fieldwork techniques from her mother's work on the Hammonton Italians. (Banner 2003)(Mead 1972) Other important aspects of Margaret's childhood which affected her views of...