timeline

born 1901

With her pioneering field work in the South Pacific beginning in the late 1920s, Margaret Mead put anthropology on the map. Along the way, we learned as much about our own culture as we did about the tribal societies she studied.

Over the next 4 decades, Margaret upended long-held beliefs about personality, sexuality, parenting and mental health with an eye toward improving life for all. A vocal + untiring social critic, she weighed in on issues ranging from atomic energy to the effects of media on children. Margaret's expert opinions ~ recorded in her 44 books + more than 1,000 articles ~ still resonate today.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Margaret Mead (18)

"I was brought up to believe that the only thing worth doing was to add to the sum of accurate information in this world."

{as quoted by The New York Times} | 1927

"As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own."

Coming of Age in Samoa | january 1928

"Education in the home, even more than at school, instead of being a special pleading for one regime, a desperate attempt to form one particular habit of mind which will withstand all outside influences, must be a preparation for those very influences."

Coming of Age in Samoa | 1928

"Human nature is almost unbelievably malleable, responding accurately and contrastingly to contrasting cultural conditions."

Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies | 1935

"Many, if not all, of the personality traits which we have called masculine or feminine are as lightly linked to sex as are the clothing, the manners, and the form of headdress that a society at a given period assigns to either sex."

Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies | 1931

"No matter how many communes anybody invents, the family always creeps back."

Future Family | 1951

"It is utterly false and cruelly arbitrary to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age."

Teacher's Treasury of Stories for Every Occasion | 1958

"Moral training used to come from the parents. Now it comes in the standards that are being spread—and they're not very high, either—directly to the children by TV and radio."

What's Happening to the American Family: An Interview with Dr. Margaret Mead | may 1963

"Children that are born now think the world was made the way it is today—complete with transistors. They need someone who gives them some kind of perspective—someone who can convince them that you could be born in one world, grow up in another, and grow old in a third."

What's Happening to the American Family: An Interview with Dr. Margaret Mead | may 1963

"Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man."

International Federation of Women Lawyers La Abogada newsletter Vol. 3 | 1967

"No society has ever yet been able to handle the temptations of technology."

Margaret Mead Speaks at First Earth Day | april 1970

"We have to learn to cherish this earth and cherish it as something fragile that's only one—it's all we have."

Margaret Mead Speaks at First Earth Day | april 1970

"Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful."

Twentieth Century Faith: Hope and Survival | 1972

"'Trick or treat' has become an empty formula without any hidden threat for those who refuse to treat."

Halloween: Where Has All the Mischief Gone? | october 1975

"Halloween...was the one night in the year when the child's world and the adult's world confronted each other, and the children were granted license to take mild revenge on adults."

Halloween: Where Has All the Mischief Gone? | october 1975

"The mild mischief children work out for themselves is the best of all."

Halloween: Where Has All the Mischief Gone? | october 1975

"If one cannot state a matter clearly enough so that even an intelligent twelve-year-old can understand it, one should remain within the cloistered walls of the university and laboratory until one gets a better grasp of one's subject matter."

Margaret Mead: Some Personal Views | 1979

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world: Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Christian Science Monitor | june 1989
  • Quotabelle profile
  • Margaret Mead

curated with care by Kathleen Murray {september 2014}