Barbara Gay Myerhoff was born on February 16, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio. She received a B.A. degree in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1958, a M.A. in Human Development at the University of Chicago in 1963, and returned to the University of California, Los Angeles to receive her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1968. Myerhoff taught in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California for the duration of her professional career. Her areas of research included the Huichol Indians of Mexico; youth movements of the 1960s; ritual and symbols; performance and narrative; women, feminism, and friendship; and aging and ethnicity among Jewish communities in Los Angeles. A prolific writer and researcher, Myerhoff edited and authored several monographs in addition to numerous articles and essays, and contributed to major collaborative projects on aging and ethnicity. In the 1970s, Barbara G. Myerhoff began an extensive study of the elderly Jewish immigrants living in Venice, California. Her award-winning documentary film and book of the same title, Number Our Days, showed how aging Eastern European immigrants made everyday life meaningful, surviving amidst hardship, invisibility and poverty. She redefined academic and public perceptions of the elderly and was a pioneer in her scholarship on women and religion. Her research took a personal turn with her final documentary, In Her Own Time, which documented Myerhoff's fatal cancer diagnosis and her participation in Hasidic healing rituals. In addition to the above, Myerhoff was also a consulting editor to Parabola (a journal of myths and traditions), a lecturer at the Center for the Healing Arts in Westwood, California, and a consultant and lecturer for psychiatric residents in the Department of Social Psychiatry at the Los Angeles County General Hospital. Barbara Gay Myerhoff died on January 7, 1985 at the age 49.
From the guide to the Barbara G. Myerhoff papers, Bulk, 1969-1984, 1911-1985, (USC Libraries Special Collections)