HARRIETTE McADOO:

DEFINING THE AMERICAN FAMILY


Politicians have recently jumped on the pro-family bandwagon, reflecting the issue's popularity with voters. But long before it was trendy, the concept of the American family has intrigued Harriette Pipes McAdoo, '61, M.A. '63, professor at Howard University's School of Social Work. McAdoo has spent a lifetime studying the American family after receiving her doctorate at the University of Michigan and a post-doctorate at Harvard. She was named "Outstanding Researcher of the Year" in 1978 by the National Association of Black Psychologists, was appointed by President Carter to the White House Conference on Families in 1979-81, and has authored many works on the complex subject, including Black Families in 1981. "Families operate within an ecological environment dealing with pressures related to employment, security and other factors coming from outside," she explains. "So families cannot be seen to be working in a vacuum." Later this year her new book, Family Ethnicity: Strength in Diversity, will be published. "You think of ethnicity as individual," she notes. "But it also operates as a family frame of reference. There are many similarities, particularly among those of color. There are uniquenesses that are cherished by an individual and by a group." Harriette cherishes her educational start at MSU. "It was wonderful," she remembers. "I enjoyed all the people I met and appreciated all my instructors." Originally from Little Rock, AK, her family moved to East Lansing in 1957 when father, then president of Alcorn University, became the first black professor hired by MSU. "His hiring required the approval of Dr. Hannah," recalls Harriette. She and her husband John, also a family expert, do more than just research families. They have raised four children, and to keep the McAdoo research dynasty intact, daughter Julia, now 27, is pursuing a doctorate in developmental psychology. As they say, it's all in the family.

Photo Caption: Harriette McAdoo was on campus last fall doing research while on sabbatical leave from Howard University.