The Institute for Intercultural Studies

MARGARET MEAD (1901-1978)

Biography | Bibliography | 2001 Centennial

Books by and about Mead

Other Resources

Books by Margaret Mead (and coauthored)

Titles currently in print are underlined and will take you to a separate page at to learn more about the book and/or to purchase it.

Coming of Age in Samoa

(1928) (1988) 2001 Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilization.

Introduction by Mary Pipher. HarperCollins, Spring 2001. (New York: Morrow. 1961 edition included new preface. Paperback edition published in 1971.) Rarely do science and literature come together in the same book. When they do -- as in Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, for example -- they become classics, quoted and studied by scholars and the general public alike.

Margaret Mead accomplished this remarkable feat not once but several times, beginning with Coming of Age in Samoa. It details her historic journey to American Samoa, taken where she was just twenty-three, where she did her first fieldwork. Here, for the first time, she presented to the public the idea that the individual experience of developmental stages could be shaped by cultural demands and expectations. Adolescence, she wrote, might be more or less stormy, and sexual development more or less problematic in different cultures. The "civilized" world, she taught us had much to learn from the "primitive." Now this groundbreaking, beautifully written work as been reissued for the centennial of her birth, featuring introductions by Mary Pipher and by Mead's daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson.

(1930) 1969 Social Organization of Manu'a. Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Bulletin No.76. Honolulu: The Museum Press.

(1931) (1976) 2001 Growing Up in New Guinea: A Comparative Study of Primitive Education. 2001 edition, introduction by Howard Gardner. HarperCollins in 2001.(1976 edition, New York: Morrow. )

Following the sensational success of her first book, Coming of Age in Samoa, Margaret Mead continued her brilliant work in Growing Up in New Guinea, detailing her study of the Manus, a New Guinea people still untouched by the outside world when she visited them in 1928. She lived in their noisy fishing village at a pivotal time -- after warfare had vanished but before missions and global commerce had begun to change their lives. She developed fascinating insights into their family lives, exploring their attitudes toward sex, marriage, the rearing of children, and the supernatural, which led her to see intriguing parallels with modern Western society. Featuring introductions by Howard Gardner, this book offers important anthropological insights into human societies and vividly captures a vanished way of life.

(1932) 1969. The Changing Culture of an Indian Tribe. New York: Columbia Univ. Press. Paperback edition published in 1969 by AMS Press.

Kinship in the Admiralty Islands

(1934) 2001. Kinship in the Admiralty Islands. New York: H. Fertig. . 2001 edition, introduction by Jeanne Guillemin, Transaction Publishers, December 2001. Originally published by American Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Papers 34:183-358.

Sex and Temperament

(1935) (1988) 2001 Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies. 2001 edition, introduction by Helen Fisher. HarperCollins, Summer 2001. (1988, New York: Morrow. New preface in 1963 edition.)

First published in 1935, Sex & Temperament is a fascinating and brilliant anthropological study of the intimate lives of three New Guinea tribes from infancy to adulthood. Focusing on the gentle, mountain-dwelling Arapesh, the fierce, cannibalistic Mundugumor, and the graceful headhunters of Tchambuli -- Mead advances the theory that many so-called masculine and feminine characteristics are not based on fundamental sex differences but reflect the cultural conditioning of different societies.

Cooperation and Competition Among Primitive Peoples

(1937) 2002. MEAD, MARGARET (editor) Cooperation and Competition Among Primitive Peoples. 2002 edition, Transaction Publishers, November 2002. New York and London: McGraw-Hill. Enlarged paperback edition published by Beacon in 1961.

In 1935, Mead was asked by the Social Science Research Council to prepare a survey of several cultures for publication. She ended up creating a model for future ethnological survey texts, as well as furthering the understanding of cultural variation in anthropological studies. This pioneer effort in anthropological literature remains firmly part of the genre of cooperative or "interdisciplinary research," though at the time of its original publication that phrase had yet to be coined. In addition to serving as editor, Mead wrote three of the dozen pieces included in this collection.

(1938-1949) (1968-1971) 2002 The Mountain Arapesh. 3 volumes. 2002 edition, introduction by Paul Roscoe. Transaction Publishers, Spring 2002. (Garden City, N.Y.: Natural History Press. Volume 1: The Record of Unabelin With Rorschach Analyses. Volume 2: The Arts and Supernaturalism. Volume 3: Stream of Events in Alitoa. )

Thanks to Margaret Mead's ethnographic fieldwork in 1931-32, the Mountain Arapesh people have become perhaps the best known of New Guinea cultures to a western lay audience. The writings collected in this book as The Mountain Arapesh form a comprehensive ethnography of their life, and its importance in the history of anthropology and American life is inseparable from Mead's earlier publication, Sex and Temperament. While Sex and Temperament framed the importance of the Mountain Arapesh as ethnographic subjects, The Mountain Arapesh provided the information that grounded and rounded out the ethnography of this comparatively peaceful people. Originally published in 5 volumes, this complete edition includes Paul Roscoe's introduction with an update on the Arapesh from his own visits to New Guinea in the 1990s.

(1942) (1971) 2000 And Keep Your Powder Dry: An Anthropologist Looks at America. New York: Morrow. 2000 edition, Berghahn Books, with introduction by Herve Varenne.(1965 edition includes a new chapter. Paperback edition published in 1971.)

Margaret Mead wrote this comprehensive sketch of the culture of the United States - the first since de Tocqueville - in 1942 at the beginning of the Second World War, when Americans were confronted by foreign powers from both Europe and Asia in a particularly challenging manner. Mead's work became an instant classic. It was required reading for anthropology students for nearly two decades, and was widely translated. It was revised and expanded in 1965 for a second generation of readers. Among the more controversial conclusions of her analysis are the denial of class as a motivating force in American culture, and her contention that culture is the primary determinant for individual character formation. Her process remains lucid, vivid, and arresting. As a classic study of a complex western society, it remains a monument to anthropological analysis.

(1942) 1962 With BATESON, GREGORY Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis. New York Academy of Sciences.

Male and Female

(1949) (1996) 2001 Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing World. 2001 edition, introduction by Helen Fisher. HarperCollins, Summer 2001. (1988 edition New York: Morrow.)

Mead's anthropological examination of seven Pacific island tribes analyzes the dynamics of primitive cultures to explore the evolving meaning of "male" and "female" in modern American society. On its publication in 1949, the New York Times declared, "Dr. Mead's book has come to grips with the cold war between the sexes and has shown the basis of a lasting sexual peace." Male & Female remains an extraordinary document of great relevance, while Mead's research methods and fieldwork offer a blueprint for scholars in future generations.

1951 The School in American Culture. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press. Reprinted in the November/December 2001 issue of Transaction's Society (Volume 39, Number 1).

(1951) 1979 Soviet Attitudes Toward Authority: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Problems of Soviet Character. New York: McGraw-Hill. Paperback edition published in 1979 by Greenwood Press.

Revised edition published as Russian Culture. Introduction by Sergei Arutiunov Berghahn Books, Summer 2001. This volume brings together two classic works on the culture of the Russian people which have been long out of print. Gorer's Great Russian Culture and Mead's Soviet Attitudes towards Authority: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Problems of Soviet Character were among the first attempts by anthropologists to analyze Russian society. They were influential both for several generations of anthropologists and in shaping American governmental attitudes toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War period. Additionally they offer fascinating insights into the early anthropological use of psychological data to analyze cultural patterns. Read as part of the history of the anthropology of complex contemporary societies, they are as fascinating for their more questionable conclusions as for their accurate characterizations of Russian life.

1951 With MACGREGOR, FRANCES C. Growth and Culture: A Photographic Study of Balinese Childhood. New York: Putnam.

1953 With CALAS, NICHOLAS (editors) Primitive Heritage: An Anthropological Anthology. New York: Random House.

(1953) 2000 With METRAUX, RHODA (editors) The Study of Culture at a Distance. Fall 2000 edition, introduction by William O. Beeman, Berghahn Books. (1953 edition Univ. of Chicago Press.)

The United States on the eve of the Second World War was still a society largely isolated from the world. Facing enemies with unfamiliar cultural traditions, the U.S. government turned to anthropologists for insight. The result was a research effort that continued long after the war, aimed, in the words of Margaret Mead, at analyzing the cultural regularities in the characters of individuals who are members of societies that are inaccessible to direct observation. In 1953, Margaret Mead and Rhoda Métraux produced The Study of Culture at a Distance, a compilation of research from this period. This remarkable work, long unavailable, presents a rich and complex methodology for the study of cultures through literature, film, informant interviews, focus groups, and projective techniques. The book also provides fascinating insights into such diverse cultures as China, Thailand, Italy, Syria, France, Germany, Russia, Romania, and Great Britain, and includes some highly original analysis such as that of the Soviet style of chess, a study of Jean Cocteau's classic film La Belle et la Bête, and the cultural interpretations of Rorschach tests administered to Chinese subjects.

Themes in French Culture

(1954) 2001 With METRAUX, RHODA Themes in French Culture. Revised edition with new intro by Katherine Anderson-Levitt, Berghahn Books Fall 2001. (1954 edition, Stanford Univ. Press.)

Margaret Mead collaborated with her long-time colleague Rhoda Métraux in this unique study of French culture. The Hoover Institute at Stanford University originally published this volume, which grew out of the Columbia University project on Research of Contemporary Cultures in 1954. It is one of the few works by American social scientists dealing with broad themes of French life. Mead and Métraux present a vivid picture of the French starting with the organization of the house and its architecture, and drawing original conclusions for the structure of French families and overall cultural values. This work, long out of print, is a fascinating and penetrating portrait of a contemporary European society.

(1954) 2002 Methods of Research of Contemporary Cultures. Reissued as Understanding Ourselves: Theory and Method in Anthropologies of Contemporary Western Cultures. Berghahn Books, Spring 2004, introduction by William O. Beeman.

Few anthropologists today realize the pioneering role Margaret Mead played in the investigation of contemporary cultures. This volume collects and presents a variety of her essays on research methodology relating to contemporary culture. Many of these essays were printed originally in limited circulation journals, research reports and books edited by others. They reflect Mead's continuing commitment to searching out methods for studying and extending the anthropologist's tools of investigation for use in complex societies. Essays on American and European societies, intergenerational relations, architecture and social space, industrialization, and interracial relations are included in this varied and exciting collection.

1955 With WOLFENSTEIN, MARTHA (editors) Childhood in Contemporary Cultures. Univ. of Chicago Press.

(1956) (1975) New Lives for Old: Cultural Transformation-Manus, 1928-1953. 2001 edition, introduction by Stewart Brand. HarperCollins, Fall 2001. (1956 New York: Dell. 1975 edition has new preface.

When Margaret Mead first studied the Manus Islanders of New Guinea in 1928, they were living with a Stone Age technology. Economically vulnerable and burdened by a complex moral code, the Manus seemed ill-equipped to handle the massive impact that World War II had on their secluded world. But a unique set of circumstances allowed the Manus to adapt swiftly to the twentieth century, and their experience led Mead to develop a revolutionary theory of cultural transformation, one that favors rapid, over piecemeal, change. As relevant today as it was a half-century ago, New Lives for Old is an optimistic examination of one society that chose to change, offering hope and a valuable model for today's developing societies.

(1959) 1973 An Anthropologist at Work: Writings of Ruth Benedict. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

1959 People and Places. New York: World Publishing. Paperback edition published in 1963 by Bantam.

1960 With BUNZEL, RUTH (editors), The Golden Age of American Anthropology. New York: G. Braziller.

l964 Anthropology: A Human Science. Princeton: Van Nostrand.

(1964) 1999 Continuities in Cultural Evolution. 2001 edition, introduction by Stephen Toulmin, New Brunswick, NJ. Transaction Press, Summer 1999

Margaret Mead once said, "I have spent most of my life studying the lives of other peoples - faraway peoples - so that Americans might better understand themselves." Continuities in Cultural Evolution is evidence of this devotion. All of Mead's efforts were intended to help others learn about themselves and work toward a more humane and socially responsible society. It is hard to think of any work of human sciences dating from the twenty years after World War II whose republication is more timely.

(1965) 1969 Anthropologists and What They Do. Eau Claire, Wisc.: Hale.

1965 With HEYMAN, KEN Family. New York: Macmillan.

1966 With BROWN, MURIEL The Wagon and the Star: A Study of American Community Initiative. Chicago: Rand McNally.

1968 With BYERS, PAUL The Small Conference: An Innovation in Communication. Publications of the International Social Science Council, No.9. Paris and The Hague: Mouton.

1968 With DOBZHANSKY, THEODOSIUS; TOBACH, ETHEL; and LIGHT, ROBERT E. (editors) Science and the Concept of Race. New York: Columbia Univ. Press. Paperback edition published in 1969.

(1970) 1978 Culture and Commitment: The New Relations Between the Generations in the 1970s. New York: Columbia Univ. Press; Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press. Revised and updated 1978 edition includes new preface, several new chapters, and new appendices. First published with subtitle: A Study of the Generation Gap.

1970 With METRAUX, RHODA A Way of Seeing. New York: McCall Publishing. Essays originally published in Redbook magazine 1962-1969. Paperback edition published in 1974 by Morrow.

1971 With BALDWIN, JAMES A Rap on Race. Philadelphia and New York: Lippincott. Paperback edition published in 1974 by Dell.

(1972) 1995 Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years. New York: Morrow. Paperback edition published in 1995 by Kodansha International.

1972 Twentieth Century Faith: Hope and Survival. Edited by Ruth N. Anshen. New York: Harper & Row.

1972 CAROTHERS, J. EDWARD; MEAD, MARGARET; MCCRACKEN, DANIEL D.; and SHINN, ROBERT L.(editors) To Love or to Perish: The Technological Crisis and the Churches. New York: Friendship Press.

1974 Ruth Benedict. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

1975 With HEYMAN, KEN World Enough: Rethinking the Future. Boston: Little, Brown.

(1977) 2001 Letters From the Field: 1925-1975. 2001 edition, introduction by Jan Morris. HarperCollins, Fall 2001. (1977 edition New York: Harper.)

Margaret Mead was famous for keeping in touch with a wide circle of friends as we see in this collection of wonderfully revealing correspondence from the field. Written over a period of half a century, these letters to friends, family, and colleagues detail her first fieldwork in Samoa and go on to record her now famous anthropological endeavors in mainland New Guinea, the Admiralty Islands, and Bali. Enhanced by photographs, these intelligent, vivid, frequently funny, and often poetic letters tell us much about Mead's passion for and understanding of preliterate cultures. But they are equally valuable as a fundamental text on the science -- and art -- of anthropology.

(1977) 1978 With METRAUX, RHODA An Interview with Santa Claus. First published in December 1977 issue of Redbook magazine.

2002 Anticipating the Future. Berghahn Books, with an introduction by Robert Textor. Spring 2004.

Born in the first year of the 20th century, it is fitting that Margaret Mead should have been one of the first anthropologists to use anthropological analysis to study the future course of human civilization. This volume collects, for the first time, her writings on the future of humanity and how humans can shape that future through purposeful action. For Mead, the study of the future was born out of her lifelong interest in processes of change. Many of these papers were originally published as conference proceedings or in limited-circulation journals, testimony before government bodies and chapters in works edited by others. They show Mead's wisdom, prescience and concern for the future of humanity.

2002 The Study of Visual Culture. Berghahn Books, with an introduction by Raymond McDermott. Spring 2004.

Margaret Mead was a pioneer in the use of film and photography to analyze culture and society. She took film and still cameras to the field and produced a series of ethnographic documents that still rank as classics. This volume collects many of her writings on visual culture together in one volume for the first time. The book includes the full text and pictures of her remarkable collaboration with Paul Byers, published as The Small Conference, articles from the journal Ekistics, and commentary on her own films.

Many of Margaret Mead's books have been translated into several foreign languages and are also available in Braille.

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Reading about Mead and her Work

In her field...

Shankman, Paul. The Trashing of Margaret Mead. University of Wisconsin Press, 2009

Molloy, Maureen. On Creating a Usable Culture: Margaret Mead and the Emergence of American Cosmopolitanism. University of Hawai'i Press, 2008.

Geertz, Hildred. Images of Power: Balinese Paintings made for Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead. University of Hawaii Press, 1995.

McDowell, Nancy. The Mundugumor: From the Field Notes of Margaret Mead and Reo Fortune. Smithsonian Institution Press (Series in Ethnographic Inquiry), 1991.

Schwartz, Theodore (editor). Socialization as Cultural Communication: Development of a Theme in the Work of Margaret Mead. University of California Press, 1976.

Sullivan, Gerald. Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and Highland Bali: Fieldwork Photographs of Bayung Gede, 1936-1939. University of Chicago Press, 1999

Cote, James E. Adolescent Storm and Stress: An Evaluation of the Mead/Freeman Controversy Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (Research Monographs in Adolescence), 1994.

Orans, Martin. Not Even Wrong: Margaret Mead, Derek Freeman, and the Samoans. Chandler & Sharp Publications, 1996.

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Biographical Books

Caffrey, Margaret and Patricia Francis. To Cherish the Life of the World: Selected Letters of Margaret Mead. Perseus Books, 2006. To Cherish the Life of the World

This collection of hundreds of Mead's letters is organized by relationships: it begins with Family (of origin), and proceeds to Husbands, Lovers, Friends, and Colleagues, rounding off with Growing Family: Kith and Kin. The richness of the letters is both individual and collective. Mead's correspondence documents the golden years of anthropology. Evident throughout these letters, regardless of date or to whom addressed, are Mead's independence, curiosity and receptivity. She was deeply fascinated with relationships, and these letters reflect her profound insights into the variability of human nature, the foundation of her life work. This book shows, through Mead's own words, how rich her life was, with all its joys, frustrations, love and hopes. These letters, and the accompanying photos, reveal the intense, complex woman behind the icon.

Banner, Lois. Intertwined Lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict and Their Circle. Knopf, 2003.

Bateson, Mary Catherine. With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson.Harper Collins, 2001. Harper Perennial, 1994; William Morrow, 1984.

Cassidy, Robert. Margaret Mead: A Voice for the Century. Universe Books, 1982.

Grinager, Patricia. Uncommon Lives: My Lifelong Friendship with Margaret Mead. Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

Gordon, Joan (editor). Margaret Mead: The Complete Bibliography 1925-1976. Walter de Gruyter, 1976.

Howard, Jane. Margaret Mead: A Life. Fawcett Columbine, 1984.

(1999) 2001 Lapsley, Hilary. Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict: The Kinship of Women. 2001 edition, introduction by Jeanne Guillemin. Transaction Publishers, Fall 2001. (Univ. of Mass. Press, 1999)

The Manus of New Guinea's Pere village were Margaret Mead's most favored community, the people to whom she returned five times before she died in 1978. Written in 1931, Kinship in the Admiralty Islands is the classic and only thorough description of their complex rules of marriage and family relations. Mead succeeded in demonstrating her thorough knowledge of this Melanesian group in the specific terms prized by her scholarly colleagues, while also describing in detail Manus social structure. Jeanne Guillemin's new introduction provides a lively in-depth description of Margaret Mead's career in the early days of anthropology as well as Mead's later reactions to how "her Manus" entered the modern world.

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For Young Readers

Burby, Liza N. Margaret Mead (Making Their Mark). Powerkids Press, 1997.

Castiglia, Julie. Margaret Mead. Silver Burdett Press, 1989.

Epstein, Sam. She Never Looked Back: Margaret Mead in Samoa. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1980.

Mark, Joan T., and Owen Gingerich (editor). Margaret Mead: Coming of Age in America (Oxford Portraits in Science). Oxford University Press, 1999.

Pollard, Michael. Margaret Mead, Anthropologist (Giants of Science). Blackbirch Marketing, 1999.

Sunshine, Linda (editor), Margaret Mead, Grandma Moses, E. B. White. To Grandmother, With Love. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1992.

Tilton, Rafael. Importance of Margaret Mead. Lucent Books, 1994.

Ziesk, Edra, and Martina S. Horner. Margaret Mead: Anthropologist (American Women of Achievement). Chelsea House, 1990..

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MARGARET MEAD: Biography | Bibliography | 2001 Centennial
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Thank you for your interest in the Institute for Intercultural Studies . We encourage you to use this website to connect to the many resources available to answer your inquiry about Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and their intellectual legacy.  However, The Institute for Intercultural Studies, founded by Margaret Mead in 1944, has closed its doors as of December 31, 2009; no further contact information is available.  For contact about permissions please see the Publishing Permission or Literary Rights section of the website.

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All rights reserved. Mead/Bateson photo ©Fred Roll.