Freeman, Derek

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John Derek Freeman was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on August 16, 1916. He earned a B.A. (1939) from Victoria University, a M.Phil. (1948) from University of London, and a Ph.D. (1953) from Cambridge University. He was a professor at Australian National University, then emeritus professor and research fellow at the University's Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies.

After completing the B.A., Freeman became a teacher of languages in Western Samoa in 1940. During his stay until 1943, he made frequent trips to Sa'anapu. His Master's thesis entitled THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF A SAMOAN VILLAGE COMMUNITY (1948) was based on his research at Sa'anapu.

Between 1949-1951, Freeman did fieldwork among the Iban of Borneo, which led to his Ph.D. thesis, and later to a monograph entitled REPORT ON THE IBAN (1955).

While teaching at University of Otago, then as an assistant professor (1955) and as a reader (1957) at Australian National University, Freeman wrote several Samoan papers. He won the Curl Prize for his essay "The Concept of the Kindred" (1960), based on his fieldwork on the Iban (Borneo).

In the sixties, Freeman began to explore a synthesis of biology and cultural anthropology. His paper entitled "Social Anthropology and the Scientific Study of Human Behavior" (1965) exemplifies this period. Between 1966 and 1968, Freeman performed fieldwork in Sa'anapu for a second time. He collected a massive amount of material on political and kinship systems, emotional response, child-rearing, and social life, based on texts, interviews, psychological tests, and observation.

Between 1968 and 1971, Freeman wrote several papers contrasting Margaret Mead's claims in COMING OF AGE IN SAMOA (1926) and his own observations, culminating in a book manuscript entitled "Culture and Human Nature in the Samoan Islands" (1971). In 1982, Freeman published MARGARET MEAD AND SAMOA (1983), a revised version of "Culture and Human Nature." The book was immediately controversial and popular in the media and academic circles, and enjoyed enough success to be republished by Penguin as MARGARET MEAD AND THE HERETIC (1996).

The Mead-Freeman controversy revolved around Freeman's argument that certain statements by Margaret Mead on Samoa were factually inaccurate, hence the paradigmatic assumptions of cultural anthropology were flawed. The book garnered widespread attention because of the great stature of Mead in the public imagination, and her association with liberal ideology. Many American anthropologists defended Mead's reputation in the press. The debates inspired a documentary film by Frank Heimans entitled MARGARET MEAD AND SAMOA (1988) about Mead, and a play by David Williamson entitled HERETIC (1996) about Freeman.

In 1992, Freeman did research in the Margaret Mead Papers at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. This work led him to a detailed reconstruction of Mead's field stay in Samoa and her sources of information. The presentation of this, as well as his study of the Franz Boas Papers led to the publication of THE FATEFUL HOAXING OF MARGARET MEAD (1999).

Freeman died in Canberra on July 6, 2001.

From the guide to the Derek Freeman Papers, 1940 - 2001, (University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.)

Ashley Montagu, born Israel Ehrenberg on June 28, 1905, was a British-American anthropologist, specializing in the areas of race and gender issues, as well as a prolific speaker and author, publishing over 50 books in his lifetime. The son of Jewish tailor Charles Ehrenberg and his wife, Mary Plot Ehrenberg, Montagu was born and raised in London's working class East End neighborhood. Although the reasoning behind his name change was never revealed, it may have been due to anti-Semitic prejudice faced by many East End Jews during his childhood, and Montagu might have felt the need to distance himself from his parents’ Russian and Polish backgrounds.

Montagu earned his undergraduate degree from University College London in psychology and anthropology. After studying anthropology at the London School of Economics under Bronislaw Malinowski, Montagu left England for the United States. He arrived at New York City in 1927 and began taking graduate classes at Columbia University. Montagu then traveled to Italy in 1928, where he took classes in ethnography and anthropology at the University of Florence. Upon his return to the United States in 1931, while working as an assistant professor of anthropology at New York University, Montagu married Marjorie Peakes. The couple would have two daughters, Audrey and Barbara, as well as a son, Geoffrey. In 1934 Montagu returned to Columbia University, culminating his postgraduate work at Columbia in 1936 with his dissertation, Coming into being among the Australian Aborigines: A study of the procreative beliefs of the native tribes of Australia, produced under the direction of Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. Based largely on his dissertation, Montagu’s first book, Coming into Being among the Australian Aborigines, was published in 1937. After he completed his education, Montagu taught anatomy at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia in 1938 and became an American citizen in 1940. It was during his time at Hahnemann that he began to produce work relating to race, resulting in his seminal work, Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, published in 1942. The work controversially advanced the argument that race was a social construct imposed upon a complex biological substratum and demolished the arguments for inherent inequality between human populations. The influential nature of Man’s Most Dangerous Myth led to Montagu’s service on the 4th United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) task force, in 1949. The ten member UNESCO committee, composed of such world-renowned social scientists as Claude Levi-Strauss and E. Franklin Frazier, was created to collect information about the problem of race and to establish educational programs to disseminate its findings. The resultant document, authored by Montagu, the group’s rapporteur, was published as the “Statement on Race” in 1951. The Committee’s final statement on race asserted: 1)All mankind belong to the same species and that the differences between groups are few compared to all of the genetic similarities. 2)That Race designates a group with high frequency of physical characteristics or particular genetic trait and that these traits fluctuate or even disappear over time. 3)The way in which people are grouped does not reflect the capacity or character traits of a particular group. The differences between races are physical and have no correlation with other traits like intelligence.

Upon leaving Hahnemann Medical College in 1949, Montagu moved to Rutgers University, where he was a professor of anthropology and head of the department from 1949 to 1955. While at Rutgers, Montagu wrote perhaps his most famous work, The Natural Superiority of Women, published in 1953. Examining the differences between the sexes anthropologically, Montagu concluded that women were the superior sex because they possessed a better capability to survive both as individuals and in groups- talents necessary for an advancing society. Based on these conclusions, he suggested that women receive equal pay for equal work, a controversial stance at the time.

With his prolific writing skills to rely on financially, and facing strong backlash for his openly liberal views and anti-McCarthy public statements, Montagu accepted a forced retirement from Rutgers in 1955 at the age of 50. Though retired from academic life, he continued to lecture at such institutions as Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Santa Barbara, and New York University. Settling in Princeton, New Jersey, Montagu’s work took up a more humanist element with Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, his effort to encourage parents to take a more physical role in raising their children and especially to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies. Published during that same year, Montagu’s book The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity, a history of the life of disfigured Briton Joseph Merrick, inspired a Tony winning play and later a motion picture. He continued publishing through the 1980s, including The Nature of Human Aggression (1976) and Growing Young (1981), while making numerous and notable television appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show as well as the Phil Donahue Show.

In his lifetime, Montagu received many major awards, among them the American Association of Humanists’ 1995 Man of the Year award, the Darwin Award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologist in 1994, and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Anthropological Association in 1987. Montagu maintained an active schedule of lecturing and gardening around his Princeton, New Jersey, home until he was hospitalized in March 1999; he died on November 26, 1999 from heart disease, at the age of ninety-four. He was survived by his wife of sixty-eight years, Marjorie, as well as his son and two daughters.

From the guide to the Ashley Montagu papers, 1927-1999, 1927-1999, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn George Gaylord Simpson Papers, 1918-1984 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Annette Weiner Papers, Bulk, 1970-1997, 1933-1997 New York University. Archives
referencedIn E. Adamson Hoebel Papers, 1925-1993 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Ashley Montagu papers, 1927-1999, 1927-1999 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Wallace, Anthony Francis Clarke. Anthony F. C. Wallace Papers. 1920-2000. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Derek Freeman Papers, 1940 - 2001 University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbie, Andrew Arthur, 1905-1976 person
associatedWith Askenasy, Hans, 1930- person
associatedWith Benton, William, 1900-1973 person
associatedWith Boas, Franz, 1858-1942 person
associatedWith Briffault, Robert person
associatedWith Buhler, Charlotte, 1983-1974 person
correspondedWith Burridge, Kenelm person
associatedWith Carpenter, Edmund, 1922-2011 person
associatedWith Clark, Wilfrid E. Le Gros, (Wilfrid Edward Le Gros), 1895-1971 person
correspondedWith Crocombe, R. G. person
associatedWith Dobzhansky, Theodosius Grigorievich, 1900-1975 person
correspondedWith Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Irenäus person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Eisler, Riane Tennenhaus person
associatedWith Elkin, A. P. (Adolphus Peter), 1891-1979 person
associatedWith Evans, Bergen, 1904-1978 person
associatedWith Firth, Raymond William, 1901- person
correspondedWith Fortes, Meyer person
correspondedWith Fox, Robin, 1934- person
associatedWith Fromm, Erich, 1900-1980 person
associatedWith Goldstein, Marcus Solomon person
correspondedWith Goodenough, Ward Hunt person
associatedWith Gould, Stephen Jay person
correspondedWith Herdt, Gilbert H., 1949- person
associatedWith Hoebel, E. Adamson (Edward Adamson), 1906-1993 person
correspondedWith Keesing, Roger M., 1935- person
associatedWith Keith, Arthur, Sir, 1866-1955 person
associatedWith Kluckhohn, Clyde, 1905-1960 person
associatedWith La Barre, Weston, 1911-1996 person
correspondedWith Lawrence, Peter, 1921- person
correspondedWith Levy, Robert I. (Robert Isaac), 1924- person
correspondedWith Lorenz, Konrad, 1903-1989 person
associatedWith Matson, Floyd W. person
associatedWith McLuhan, Marshall, 1911-1980 person
associatedWith Meade, Margaret, 1901-1978 person
correspondedWith Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978 person
correspondedWith Montagu, Ashley, 1905- person
associatedWith Oakley, Kenneth Page, 1911 person
correspondedWith Oliver, Douglas L. person
correspondedWith Popper, Karl Raimund person
associatedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956 person
correspondedWith Schneider, David Murray, 1918- person
associatedWith Simpson, George Gaylord, 1902-1984 person
correspondedWith Skinner, H. D. (Henry Devenish), 1886-1978 person
associatedWith Sorokin, Pitirim Aleksandrovich, 1889-1968 person
correspondedWith Tiffany, Sharon W. person
correspondedWith Tuzin, Donald F. person
associatedWith Wallace, Anthony F. C., 1923- person
correspondedWith Washburn, S. L. (Sherwood Larned), 1911- person
correspondedWith Weiner, Annette, 1933- person
associatedWith Weiner, Annette B., 1933- person
correspondedWith Wendt, Albert, 1939- person
associatedWith Yerkes, Robert Mearns, 1876-1956 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Samoan Islands




Ark ID: w6f88q1s

SNAC ID: 4039235