www.whyville.net Mar 30, 2000 Weekly Issue

Margaret Mead

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by Auntie M
Guest Columnist

Margaret Mead
Cool girl scientist

Margaret Mead never quite felt like she fit in. Margaret was born in 1901 at the West Park Hospital in Philadelphia. As a child, Margaret felt different since all of the other kids in her class had been born at home. On top of that, Margaret's parents were professors and the Mead family moved around so much, Margaret never had the chance to really call a place home. Sometimes the Mead family only lived in a place for one day! Margaret was jealous that the other kids had a place they could call their own and she never did. Eventually, Margaret would find a place to fit in, and that was at Barnard College.

Barnard College was the place where Margaret became interested in the field of anthropology, which is the study of diversity among cultures. Margaret graduated from college and went on to pursue her master's degree and a doctorate in anthropology.

(Courtesy of National Women's Hall of Fame)

While in school, Margaret traveled to Samoa, in order to study how Samoan girls and American girls are raised differently. Margaret found that a girl's personality is largely shaped by culture and not by genetics. Her book, "Growing up in Samoa", was considered a very important work, and her book is still a best seller.

Margaret continued her studies of different cultures in New Guinea, where she studied the Arapesh, Mudugmor, and Tchambuli peoples. She discovered that in the Arapesh culture, men and women were treated equally, with both men and women caring for the family. Margaret found the men and women of the Mudugmor culture to be mean and aggressive, leaving their children to fend for themselves. Margaret also discovered that in the Tchambuli culture, women were not expected to care for the home, instead, the men took care of the home and children.

Margaret devoted her entire life to teaching people that all cultures share things in common, even if the people of that culture are considered "primitive". For a child who never felt like she fit in, Margaret went on to become the most famous and well-respected anthropologist in the world. Because of Margaret Mead's perseverance and hard work, we all have a better understanding of the world and our place in it.


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