An Archaeological Discovery

World famous anthropologist Margaret Mead gave a guest lecture at Curry in 1969.

World famous anthropologist Margaret Mead gave a guest lecture at Curry in 1969. // COURTESY PHOTO //

BY ALYSSA GALLO // DEC. 13, 2012 //

Margaret Mead was one of the world’s most famous anthropologists. But it was the discovery of her past presence here at Curry that has some people on campus very excited.

Professor Robert Keighton, a politics and history professor who has taught at Curry since 1966, found an audio recording of Mead’s guest lecture, in 1969, while cleaning his office this past summer. The talk was part of a series of lectures on campus about archaeology and the “fantastic goings-on under the sea.” Among the other guests to campus was Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, in 1968. Chisholm went on to serve seven terms representing a district in New York.

“Mead was very interesting,” said Keighton. “Very carefree. She had an opinion about everything.” The last thing she said before the tape ran out was that “every student should leave here and try marijuana,” Keighton added.

Mead, who died in 1978, wrote more than 40 books and authored upward of a thousand articles. She sought to apply the values of anthropology and the social sciences to societal problems, such as world hunger, childhood education and mental health. Mead was also a women’s rights activist and a pioneer of the 1960s sexual revolution.

With the help of Communication Professor Rob MacDougall, who also serves as the director of Curry’s Faculty Center, there will be a public
airing of the tape next semester.The talk is about an hour long, and Mead offers up her opinions about education, war and politics.

“She was very free on the use of drugs and the idea of sex,” said Keighton.

According to MacDougall, Mead also spoke about using technology to enhance learning and how to make classroom time more useful for students.

Keighton recalled that Mead was a huge draw on campus. The talk was held in an auditorium, and when space ran out a speaker was wired up in what is now the Hafer Parents Lounge.

MacDougall, who is working to get Mead’s daughter to participate in the airing of the recording next semester, said the tape is a time capsule of wisdom that is just as relevant today as it was 43 years ago.

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