Alexander Street Announces Release of Margaret Mead Papers
Alexander Street is thrilled to announce that over 6,000 pages of Margaret Mead’s previously unpublished fieldwork are now available on the Alexander Street platform.
These materials are published in partnership with the Library of Congress and the Margaret Mead Estate as part of the landmark Anthropological Fieldwork Online collection, which brings the fieldwork underpinning the great ethnographies of the early 20th century into the digital world.
Mead took her first field trip to Samoa in 1925-1926. The Samoa expedition was the first of three major fieldwork trips Mead undertook throughout her career. It is the only research trip she conducted by herself, and it resulted in a trove of materials around gender roles. This initial release of pages contains field notes, subsequent analyses, manuscripts and documents that led to her first and seminal ethnography, Coming of Age in Samoa.
Alexander Street will continue to launch additional sets of Mead’s papers every few weeks for the next several months, with over 40,000 pages anticipated live by the end of the summer—just in time for your fall classes!
Coming Soon: The next release will contain materials from Mead’s second field trip, which she conducted jointly with anthropologist Reo Fortune in Papua New Guinea between 1928 and 1932.
Content is published in original finding aid order, with each box and folder containing the full set of contents wherever possible. Visit the Margaret Mead Archival landing page for more information about which boxes from the archive are included.
- Original field notebooks containing Mead’s notes and observations on gender roles.
- Original field notebooks documenting detailed linguistic notes and analysis, documenting the Samoan language as it existed nearly a century ago.
- Correspondence between Mead and her contemporary peers, including prominent anthropologists like Bronislaw Malinowski.
Continued dialogue around Mead’s research is healthy, honest and necessary, as today’s anthropologists take on the responsibility of unraveling and grappling with broader questions around ethics and the inherent colonial undercurrent of early anthropological studies. By opening access to the original primary sources at the heart of the debate, we can enable that dialogue to grow in informed and enhanced ways.
The Margaret Mead papers are now available on the Alexander Street platform as part of the landmark Anthropological Fieldwork Online collection. Anthropological Fieldwork Online is available for purchase or annual subscription. Librarians and faculty may request a free 30-day trial at alexanderstreet.com/antf.
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