Mead, George Herbert
- Mitchell Aboulafia
Mead, George Herbert (27 February 1863–26 April 1931), philosopher and social theorist, was born in South Hadley, Massachusetts, the son of Hiram Mead, a minister and professor of homiletics, and Elizabeth Storrs Billings Mead, professor and president of Mt. Holyoke College. Mead and his elder sister Alice were reared in a home steeped in the traditions of Congregationalism. Although new intellectual and social currents began to stir at Congregationalist Oberlin College during Mead’s student years (1879–1883), later in life he could still remark that “it took him twenty years to unlearn what he had been taught the first twenty” (Miller, p. xii). He received an A.B. from Oberlin in 1883 and after a short stint as a grade school teacher spent the next few years alternating between the posts of surveyor with the Wisconsin Central Rail Road Company and private tutor. Correspondence with his close friend and future brother-in-law, Henry Castle, of the influential and wealthy Castle family of Hawaii, led to his enrollment in 1887 at Harvard College, where the focus of his studies was philosophy and psychology. While at Harvard Mead tutored ...