Papers of Margaret Read

Scope and Content

Travel notebooks and diaries, dating particularly from the 1940s onwards; photographs, including albums of overseas visits and tours, dating from 1919; personalia; drafts of published and unpublished writings; correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Margaret Read (1889-1991) was an early woman social anthropologist. She was a pioneer in applying social anthropology and ethnography to the education and health problems of developing countries. Having studied at Newnham College Cambridge, from 1919 to 1924 she undertook missionary social work in Indian hill villages. From 1924-1930 she lectured on international affairs in Britain and the United States. During the 1930s she studied anthropology at the London School of Economics (LSE), did ethnographic field research in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and lectured at LSE. In 1940 Margaret Read was awarded a Chair at the Institute of Education, University of London and became Head of the Department of Education in Tropical Areas, a post which she held until her retirement in 1955. Read was influential in shaping the British Government's attitude to post-war colonial education and was a close personal friend of Sir Christopher Cox at the Colonial Office. After her retirement, she undertook consultancy work, notably for the World Health Organisation and held a number of visiting professorships in Nigeria and the United States.

Access Information

Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form.

Acquisition Information

Given by Margaret Read's family in 1993.

Other Finding Aids

Electronic and paper catalogues.

Archivist's Note

Used IoE online catalogue and 2002 Genesis description. Submitted to Archives Hub as part of the Genesis 2009 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Related Material

Papers relating to Margaret Read's anthropological work amongst the Ngoni of Malawi are held at the British Library of Political and Economic Science. Correspondence between Read and Margery Perham is held at Rhodes House, Oxford.