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Photograph of a woman

Image description: A woman with short dark hair and glasses smiles with her chin on her hand. She is wearing a long-sleeved red shirt and hoop earrings.
Caption: Ann Metcalf.


Ann Metcalf, of Kensington, California, died Sunday, September 13, 2020, at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland.

Born on March 18, 1940, to Archie Hillyer (d. 1979) and Dorothy Miller (nee Hillyer, d. 2003), Metcalf was raised in Muscatine, Iowa, and graduated valedictorian from Muscatine High School in 1958. After earning a BA in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1962, she moved to Washington, DC, where she married William Rosenthal in 1963 (divorced 1975). While in DC, Metcalf worked as a research assistant under Alice Rivlin at the Brookings Institution, and took graduate courses in Education at Howard University. She earned her PhD in anthropology from Stanford University in 1975, and enjoyed a long academic career, including positions at the University of California, Berkeley, University of Washington, and the Institute for Scientific Analysis, before joining the teaching faculty at Mills College in 1984. While at Mills, Metcalf served as director of community service and service learning (1997–2000), was named Edward Hohfeld Endowed Chair in American Studies (1998–2001), and was twice awarded National Science Foundation Summer Institute fellowships.

Her research and teaching interests included women’s status, child development, social inequality, and Native American studies. She published several articles over the years, and made numerous presentations to professional organizations such as the Society for Applied Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association, but Metcalf was never more fulfilled professionally than when working with her students and teaching colleagues. She retired from Mills as professor emerita of anthropology in 2016.

A loving parent and grandparent, a mentor to many, and an avid reader of Jane Austen, Stephen King, and everything in between, Metcalf is remembered for her sharp intellect, fierce independence, and abundant kindness. She is survived by sons Stephen Rosenthal and David Rosenthal; adored grandchildren, Molly Rosenthal, Lucy Rosenthal, and Christopher Rosenthal; cousins Russell and Ian Miller; nieces Lisa and Diane Sesko; and many dear friends and in-laws. She was preceded in death by her beloved sister Sherry Sesko, and uncle Donald Miller. The family has created a memorial website; memorial donations may be made to the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Response Donation Fund or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

(David Rosenthal)

Cite as: Rosenthal, David. 2020. “Ann Metcalf.” Anthropology News website, November 5, 2020. DOI: 10.14506/AN.1528

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