When Margaret Mead died on November 15 in 1978, she was the most famous anthropologist in the world. Indeed, it was through her work that many people learned about anthropology and its holistic vision of the human species.
Mead was born in Philadelphia on December 16, 1901 in a household of social scientists with roots in the Midwest. Her major at Barnard was psychology, but she went on to earn a doctorate at Columbia, studying with Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. For her, anthropology was an urgent calling, a way to bring new understandings of human behavior to bear on the future. In 1925 she set out for American Samoa, where she did her first field work, focusing on adolescent girls, and in 1929 she went, accompanied by her second husband, Reo Fortune, to Manus Island in New Guinea, where she studied the play and imaginations of younger children and the way they were shaped by adult society.
-- The words above are from The Institute for Intercultural Studies
We need role models now more than ever. For most of my life, Dr. Mead - even though I never met her - has filled that role for me. The night before she died, I have read, she acknowledged to an attending nurse that she (Mead) was dying. To the nurse's comment that death is a natural part of life, Dr. Mead replied, "But this is different."