The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research

By Derek Freeman | Go to book overview

4
Professional Researcher Status:
A Bishop Museum
Associate in Ethnology

WITH BOAS'S LETTER TO LILLIE of May 12, 1925, the conditions laid down by the Board of National Research Fellowships in the Biological Sciences had been met. On May 26, Mead's fellowship appointment was confirmed by Lillie's secretary, "to begin as of August 1, 1925." On June 24, Mead was notified of Professor Lillie's further advice that she should obtain "letters of introduction and identification" from the Bishop Museum. In fact, Mead had written to Dr. Herbert Gregory as early as May 5, 1925, informing him of the award of her fellowship by the National Research Council for the "investigation of the adolescent girl in a primitive culture as a study in heredity and environment" and seeking "close affiliation" with the staff of the Bishop Museum. Gregory's response was immediate. At a meeting of the trustees held on May 21, 1925, Miss Margaret Mead, on Gregory's recommendation, was appointed an associate in ethnology on the staff of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum for the period June 1, 1925, to December 31, 1926. In a letter dated June 2, 1925, Gregory wrote to Mead again, enclosing "a brief list of ethnological topics requiring study in Samoa" and inquiring whether any of these topics fitted into her own research program. It had occurred to him that Mead might "assume the task of collecting information" for a separate publication by the Bishop Museum "on some such topic as Samoan family life, birth,

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