1901 - 1978

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

 - Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead became world famous for her studies of South Sea peoples, especially Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), which rejected biological determinism to emphasize the inexorable influence of cultural forces on adolescent development. She later expanded her study, which led her to admonish American parents for what she saw as comparatively inept child-rearing practices in the United States. She wrote more than 1,000 articles and 30 books in addition to working as a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Though she was married three times, in the mid-1920s Mead began a life-long relationship with fellow anthropologist Ruth Benedict which influenced how the two women interpreted what was deemed “normal” in a culture. As a result, Mead came to describe the “deviant” as a person who “demanded a different or improved environment but who rejected the traditional choices” to set up alternate standards. She became one of the earliest proponents of bisexuality, questioning the socio-cultural forces that demand people choose between a lifetime of exclusive homosexuality or heterosexuality.

Lesson Plan


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Bisexual

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Faith Construct Protestant

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch First-wave Feminism (1848-1930) Information Age (1970-present) World War II (1939-1945)

Field(s) of Contribution




Humanities & Religion


Media & Communications


Social Justice

Social Sciences

STEM & Medicine

US History

Commemorations & Honors

UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science Award (1970)

National Women's Hall of Fame Inductee (1976)

Posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom Award For Science (1979)

U.S. Postal Service Issued Celebrate the Century Commemorative Stamp in Her Honor (1998)


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Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell