16 December

Margaret Mead, born on 16 December 1901, 'taught generations of Americans about the value of looking carefully and openly at other cultures to better understand the complexities of being human', in the words of the American Museum of Natural History, where she worked from 1926 until her death in 1978.
December 2009

'I have spent most of my life studying the lives of other peoples - faraway peoples - so that Americans might better understand themselves,' she once said. As an anthropologist, she did more than perhaps any other individual to popularise her subject and to reveal some of the innumerable permutations in human social organisation, attitudes and gender roles. As an activist, she became a prominent advocate for causes ranging from education and ecology to the women's movement and nuclear disarmament. Such was her influence that Time magazine named her 'Mother of the World' in 1969.

'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has' - Margaret Mead






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