Frances Cooke Macgregor


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Frances Cooke Macgregor was born on April 21, 1906 in Portland, Oregon to Charles and Margaret Cooke.  She was raised in San Rafael, California by her parents, who both worked with guide dogs for the blind.  She attended the Univeristy of California-Berkley, graduating in 1927 with a degree in economics. and then married anthropologist Gordon Macgregor.

Frances married Gordon Macgregor who worked for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. This required him and his wife to move around the United States.  Frances was intrigued by what she saw in the many reservations the two visited and, being a professional photographer, she decided to chronicle her travels by taking photographs.  These images resulted in her 1941 book titled Twentieth Century Indians

In 1936 Frances moved to Hingham, Massachusetts in order to live with her sister-in-law while her husband continued to travel.  The house was located on Stoddard Road.  Frances found the atmosphere in Hingham to be very different from that of the West.  She felt that the people were more formal and staid.  Frances enjoyed more informal activities - fishing, bicycling, and canoeing - which she continued to do while living in Hingham.

Frances saw her entrance into this new environment as an opportunity to chronicle the town in a photographic book.  She wanted to take a sociological look at the city by photographing every day residents and the different social roles they played.  In 1941 this project resulted in Frances collaborating with her friend Eleanor Roosevelt to create the book This Is America. It featured photographs by Macgregor and text by Roosevelt.  Ultimately, the book was less a sociological work and more of a political tool.  It depicted Hingham as a typical town in the United States, the type of place worth fighting for in World War II.

Still, Macgregor became fascinated with anthopology and sociology, obtaining a degree in both subjects in 1947 from the University of Missouri.  She became a research assistant for Margaret Mead and the two collaborated on a book about Balinese children.  Macgregor then conducted research for her Ph.D. at the NYU College of Medicine on the pyschological and social effects of facial deformities and plastic surgery.

She worked as a professor at the Cornel University Medical and Nursing School from 1954 to 1968, during which time she wrote a textbook entitled Social Science in Nursing.  After 1968 she moved to New York in order to teach at the New York University Medical Center's Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. 

Frances Cooke Macgregor pioneered the field of research into facial deformities and plastic surgery.  She was the first to complete a major publication on the subject and her continued research projects made her a worldwide authority on the subject.  She was also one of the original founders of New York's Society for the Rehabilitation of the Facial Disfigured.

By the time she retired, Macgregor was a nationally recognized social scientist and authority on such subjects as facial disfigurement.  She moved to Carmel, California in 1991 and died there on Christmas Eve in 2001.