Benedict, Ruth (1887–1948) By Doran, Emma
Known as America’s first woman anthropologist, Ruth Fulton Benedict was a cultural relativist and folklorist. She studied anthropology under Franz Boas (1858–1942) at Columbia University, received her PhD in 1923 and thereafter joined the faculty. Margaret Mead (1901–78) was her student and protégée, and the two maintained a lifelong friendship. Among Benedict’s contributions to the field of anthropology was her publication Patterns of Culture (1934), in which she directed anthropology toward a comparative analysis of culture, through which we learn about a given culture by contextualizing it with others without making moral judgments.