Harriette Pipes McAdoo

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Harriette Pipes McAdoo
Born(1940-03-15)March 15, 1940
DiedDecember 21, 2009(2009-12-21) (aged 69)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Scientific career
African-American studies
InstitutionsMichigan State University

Harriette Pipes McAdoo (March 15, 1940 - December 21, 2009) was an American sociologist and a distinguished professor at Michigan State University. She and her husband, John Lewis McAdoo, engaged in research concerning African-American families. She was the author of a well-regarded anthology, Black Families.

Early life[edit]

McAdoo was the first of three children born to William Harrison Pipes and Anne Howard Russell Pipes. She was born in the infirmary of Fort Valley State College.[1] William Pipes taught at Fort Valley State and several other colleges, was president of Alcorn College and became the first African-American professor at Michigan State University.[2] When McAdoo was a small child, her mother worked as a domestic servant in spite of having a master's degree because of poor job prospects for black people at the time.[3]

McAdoo grew up mostly in Little Rock, Arkansas, but her family moved to East Lansing, Michigan, when she was a teenager, and she finished high school there.[4] McAdoo earned undergraduate and master's degree from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in educational psychology and child development from the University of Michigan. She did postdoctoral work at Harvard University.[5]


After 21 years on the faculty at Howard University in the School of Social Work, two of which she spent as acting dean, she was named a Distinguished Professor at Michigan State in the Department of Sociology and the School of Human Ecology. McAdoo also held visiting professorships at several institutions, including Smith College and the University of Washington.[5]

McAdoo and her husband, researcher John Lewis McAdoo, started working on the Family Life Project in the 1970s. The project was an attempt to study African-American families. The couple felt that most of the sociological evidence on this subject reinforced long-held stereotypes because they came from dysfunctional families who had contact with agencies such as prisons and drug treatment programs rather than from middle-class families. McAdoo and her husband systematically looked at middle-class black families in Washington, D.C.[6]

The Association of Black Psychologists named McAdoo its 1978 Outstanding Researcher of the Year. During the Carter administration, McAdoo was an appointee to the White House Conference on Families. In 1994, McAdoo was the president of the National Council on Family Relations. She was the editor of a four-volume anthology known as Black Families. She and her husband established the Empirical Conference on Black Psychology.[5]

Death and legacy[edit]

McAdoo died unexpectedly in 2009. She was predeceased by her husband.[5] The National Council on Family Relations awards the John L. and Harriette P. McAdoo Dissertation Award to recognize doctoral dissertations that relate to ethnic minority families. In 2018, Ijeoma Opara was named the recipient of the John L. and Harriette P. McAdoo Dissertation Award for her work on highlighting protective factors for drug use and sexual risk behavior prevention among Black and Hispanic female adolescents. [7]


  1. ^ Miller, Julia (February–March 2011). "Harriette Pipes McAdoo (1940–2009)". American Psychologist. 66 (2). Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  2. ^ "Feature: MSU's Iconic Professors". Michigan State University. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  3. ^ Williams, Robert L. History of the Association of Black Psychologists: Profiles of Outstanding Black Psychologists. AuthorHouse. p. 341. ISBN 9781434396631.
  4. ^ "Harriette McAdoo: Defining the American family". msu.edu. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "Footnotes | April 2010 Issue | Obituaries". www.asanet.org. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  6. ^ Scarupa, Harriet (August 21, 1977). "Middle class, stable and black". The Baltimore Sun.
  7. ^ "NCFR recognizes Ijeoma Opara for contributions to knowledge about ethnic minority families | National Council on Family Relations".