READ, Margaret, 1889-1991, social anthropologist

Scope and Content

This collection covers Read's fieldwork among the Ngoni of Malawi, 1935-1939, her work on education and nutrition in India 1958-1960, her teaching, and her published works.

Administrative / Biographical History

Margaret Helen Read, 1889-1991, was educated at Roedean and Newnham College, Cambridge. In 1919, she travelled to India, where she was involved in social work in hill villages and developed an interest in social anthropology. After her return to England in 1924, she embarked upon a career lecturing in international affairs in both Britain and America, and entered the London School of Economics to study anthropology in 1930. She studied under Malinowski and was influenced by his theories of functional anthropology. She embarked on ethnographic fieldwork in east central Africa and was appointed as assistant lecturer at LSE in 1937. In 1940 she left the LSE to join the staff at the Colonial Department of the Institute of Education where her main interest was the effect of Western education in Africa. In 1949, Read was appointed as the first Professor of Education 'with special reference to colonial areas' at the Institute of Education. Here she played an important role in shaping post war attitudes in Whitehall towards colonial education policy. She retired in 1955 and was appointed to the University of Nigeria at Ibadan as a Visiting Professor of Education. She became a consultant to the World Health Organisation in 1956, and chairman of the World Health Organisation committee of experts on the training of medical and auxiliary staffs.


This collection is arranged in 4 sections: 1. Africa, 1935-1964; 2. India, 1958-1960; 3. Conferences, correspondence and teaching, 1951-1969; 4. Writings by Professor Read, 1936-1970.

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Printed handlist and online catalogue available.

Archivist's Note

Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on May 29, 2002

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Corporate Names