Inge Bretherton and Everett Waters organized a "Celebration of Mary Ainsworth's Life and Contributions" at the 1999 SRCD meeting in Albuquerque.  With bright floral arrangements and nearly 200 people in attendance, Inge read the obituary that she, Bob Marvin, and Jude Cassidy had prepared.  Then we saw a selection of slides from Infancy in Uganda and Mary's 83rd birthday party.  Quite a few people spoke of personal experiences with Mary, her importance as a mentor, and of her grace, good humor, and enthusiasm for everything she engaged.  Ursula Bowlby sent the assembled group a loving statement about Mary and her personal and professional importance to John Bowlby.  Although Mary Main was not able to attend, she sent several brief  video clips of Mary and Mary with John Bowlby.  These were projected on a huge screen and very much enjoyed.  In conclusion, Everett noted that Mary had been very proud of her WWII military service as a major in the Canadian Army, a tradition in which a person who has done particularly well earns three cheers.  So the meeting ended not with tears but with three hearty cheers for Mary Ainsworth.  Hip! Hip!  Hurrah!  Hip! Hip!  Hurrah!  Hip! Hip!  Hurrah!


Mary Ainsworth (1913-1999)
Contributed by Inge Bretherton, Bob Marvin, and Jude Cassidy

Mary D. Salter Ainsworth, one of the preeminent developmental psychologists of the 20th century, died in Charlottesville, VA on March 21, 1999, after a lengthy illness.  She leaves behind an international family of students and friends.  Her contributions to the scientific study of attachment led to groundbreaking changes in how we think about the bond between an infant and its caregivers.

Professor Ainsworth was born in Glendale, Ohio in 1913, the daughter of Charles and Mary Salter.  She spent most of her childhood in Toronto, Canada.  She earned her BA from the University of Toronto in 1935, her MA in 1936, and her PhD in developmental psychology in 1939.  She then held a position as lecturer in the Psychology Department until 1942, when she was commissioned in the Canadian Women's Army Corps, attaining the rank of major.  She returned to the University of Toronto as assistant professor in1946, where she wrote an influential collaborative book with Klopfer on the Rorschach Test.

In 1950, Mary Salter married Leonard Ainsworth, a WWII veteran and graduate student in psychology, and moved to London, England.  There she began a life-long collaborative partnership with John Bowlby, a child psychiatrist who was investigating the devastating effects that prolonged separation from the mother in early childhood had on young children in hospitals and institutions.  From London she moved to Kampala, Uganda where she conducted one of the first longitudinal, scientific studies of mother-infant interaction in the first year of life.

In 1955, Professor Ainsworth moved to Baltimore, MD where she conducted clinical work and joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University.  She was appointed Associate Professor in 1958 and full professor in 1963.  In 1962, she began her renowned Baltimore study of infant-caregiver attachment. This study led to major changes in how parents, psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians, educators, and policy-makers world-wide think about parenting infants and very young children.

In 1974, Mary Ainsworth moved to the University of Virginia, first as Visiting Professor, then as Commonwealth Professor from 1975 to 1984. During this time she continued teaching developmental psychology, supervising the research of many graduate students, and publishing the results of her own research.  She also played a key role in the development of the clinical psychology training program at the University of Virginia. She retired as Professor Emeritus in 1984, after which she remained professionally active until 1992.

Always active in professional organizations, she was elected president of the Society for Research in Child Development from 1977 to 1979.  Among the many honors and awards she has received are Phi Beta Kappa, University of Toronto; Distinguished Contribution Award, Maryland Psychological Association (1973); Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, Virginia Psychological Association (1983); Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, Division 12 (Division of Clinical Psychology, American Psychological Association (APA; 1984); G. Stanley Hall Award, Division 7 (Division of Developmental Psychology), APA (1984); Salmon Lecturer, Salmon Committee on Psychiatry and Mental Hygiene, New York Academy of Medicine (1984); William T. Grant Lecturer in Behavioral Pediatrics, Society for Behavioral Pediatrics (1985); Award for Distinguished Contributions to Child Development Research, Society for Research in Child Development (1985); Award for Distinguished Professional Contribution to Knowledge, American Psychological Association (1987); C. Anderson Aldrich Award in Child Development, American Academy of Pediatrics (1987); Distinctive Achievement Award, Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health (1989); Honorary Fellowship, Royal College of Psychiatrists (1989); Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, American Psychological Association (1989); American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1992); Distinguished Professional Contribution Award, Division 12 (Division of Clinical Psychology, American Psychological Association (1994); International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships Distinguished Career Award (1996); Mentor Award, Division 7 (Division of Developmental Psychology), American Psychological Association (1998); and the Gold Metal Award for Life Achievement in the Science of Psychology, American Psychological Foundation (1998).

Professor Ainsworth was a member of the Buck Mt. Episcopal Church in Earlysville, VA.  She is survived by her sister, Dorothy Sloan, of Vancouver, British Colombia, and three nieces: Gretchen Baumgardner of Montpelier, VT, Karla Baumgardner of Montreal, Canada, and Frances Baumgardner of Albuquerque, NM. 


A Selection of  the Slides Shown at  MDA Celebration (SRCD 1999)

Photo by Mary's friend Irv Gottesman (ca. 1990)


 From Infancy in Uganda

"Petero felt much more secure after his mother picked him up." "Samwendi with his elegant mother." Sembajwe (bells on his ankles).  His proud mother and young aunt look on.


From MDA 83rd Birthday Celebration  (U. Va. 1995)


Mary and some of her students from the Johns Hopkins years at her  83rd Birthday Celebration.

 Hosted by Dept. Psychology University of Virginia.
Front (l to r): Sylvia Bell, Mary Ainsworth, Donelda Stayton. Back (l to r) Inge Bretherton, 
Mark Greenberg, Mary Main, Bob Marvin, Mary Blehar, Everett Waters.

Up until midnight at her 83rd Birthday Celebration 


Ursula Bowlby sent her greetings and the following thoughts.  
They were read by Howard Steele.


Memories of Mary Ainsworth

Mary Ainsworth often stayed with us at Wyldes Close Corner and there were
few things John enjoyed more than days spent with her, papers all over our
big dining-room table and the the two of them deep in discussion.

We stayed with her too, in Baltimore and Charlottesville, and in between
they corresponded frequently by letter.

Theirs was such a long, fruitful partnership. Her work was, I know, a
tremendous reassurance to John, that he was on the right track. He never
lacked confidence, but having Mary Ainsworth's work underpinning his own
meant a very great deal to him.

John was an explorer, venturing into uncharted territory, and Mary
Ainsworth's data provided him with signposts. Moreover she was such an ally
 -- and he needed this.

I don't remember them ever in disagreement -- except of course that John
tried to get her to give up chain-smoking.

                       Ursula Bowlby 


Photos from MDA Celebration SRCD 1999.

 Inge Bretherton and Everett Waters

Bob Marvin, Alan Sroufe, 
Joan Stevenson-Hinde, Brian Vaughn

 Mary Ainsworth Undergrads at Johns Hopkins
Everett Waters, Mark Cummings, Mark Greenberg

Joan Stevenson-Hinde, Christoph Heineke, 
Bob Marvin

Joan Stevenson-Hinde and 
Marinus van IJzendoorn

Carolyn and Philip Cowan

Bob Marvin and Joan Stevenson-Hinde

Harriet & Everett Waters
with a rose from the celebration