A woman who changed the world with brilliant ideas, acclaimed social anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) was born on this day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and called anthropology the "world's greatest authority on anything."
"Most of the experiences which young people meet for the first time in college," she once wrote, "I had had by the time I was five. They were part of my whole self."
At age 23, with a newly-acquired Ph.D., the freethinker embarked on her first field trip to American Samoa to study human behavior in societies with little exposure to Western culture.
With missionary zeal, she studied how the young were taught to conform to cultural norms. She recorded her insights in the bestseller, Coming of Age in Samoa (1928).
"I have spent most of my life studying the lives of other peoples -- faraway peoples -- so that Americans might better understand themselves," she said. Based on her Samoan observations, she suggested that teenagers with greater sexual freedom had less anxieties.
She made 10 films, wrote 34 books, and filled almost 200 volumes of notebooks on her daily activities. With passion, she celebrated diversity and made anthropology accessible to more people.
"The ability to learn is older -- as it is also more widespread -- than is the ability to teach," she said.
More Margaret MEAD Quotations
You can change the world.