From Saturday's NYT:
- John Whiting, Anthropologist at Harvard, Dies at 90
By WOLFGANG SAXON
John Wesley Mayhew Whiting, a professor emeritus of social
anthropology at Harvard who studied learning processes and child development
in varying societies, died May 13 at home in Chilmark, Mass., in the house
where he was born on Martha's Vineyard. He was 90.
Whiting and his wife of 60 years, Beatrice Blyth Whiting, a
fellow Harvard anthropologist, formed one of the most enduring husband-wife
teams in their discipline, and, although he retired from teaching in 1978,
they continued with a cross-cultural field study of adolescence into the
1980s. His most important research papers, with new introductions, were also
reprinted after his retirement, and in 1994 Cambridge University Press
published "Culture and Human Development," his memoir with selected papers.
Whiting graduated in 1931 from Yale University, where he was
captain of the wrestling team, then went on to earn a doctorate in sociology
and anthropology there in 1938. He was on the staff of the Institute of
Human Relations at Yale until 1947, with time out for wartime service in the
Navy. He moved to Harvard's new Laboratory of Human Development in the
Graduate School of Education in 1949, served as its director for a time and
was named the first Bigelow Professor of Education in 1960. He became
professor of social anthropology three years later.
His field work led to the publication of "Becoming a Kwoma:
Teaching and Learning in a New Guinea Tribe" in 1941. His comparative
studies of child behavior and parental practices sought out common features
of human development in diverse societies.
He and his wife developed a course that became a training
base in comparative child development for generations of Harvard graduate
The Whitings also founded and directed the Child Development
Research Unit at the University of Nairobi, which conducted field studies in
Kenya and brought Kenyans to Harvard for graduate training.
In addition to his wife, Whiting is survived by their
daughter, Susan Whiting of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.