Ruth Fulton was born in New York City, the daughter of a surgeon and a schoolteacher. She began reading and writing poetry as a small child. Partial deafness from a childhood illness made her shy and reserved. She studied philosophy and English literature at Vassar College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She then traveled in Europe for a year. In 1914, Ruth married Stanley Benedict, a biochemist at Cornell Medical College. In 1919, she went back to school, enrolling at The New School for Social Research, and at age 34, entered Columbia University, where she studied anthropology under Franz Boas. She received her Ph.D. and joined the Columbia faculty in 1923. Among her students was Margaret Mead. Dr. Benedict was an advocate of cultural and racial equality, and became a pioneer in the field of anthropology, as well as in academia. She's considered the first woman to be recognized as a leader in her profession. Dr. Benedict was the author of several influential works on the national character of various cultures including several Native American tribes. Her most famous work, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946), on Japan, was published at a crucial time in that nation's history. Her other published works included Patterns of Culture (1934) Zuni Mythology (1935), and Race, Science and Politics (1940). After World War II, Dr. Benedict returned to Europe to complete research for a large project sponsored by UNESCO on the occupation of Eastern European countries. Her correspondence with Margaret Mead, Franz Boas, and Edward Sapir was edited and published posthumously by Dr. Mead in 1951.