1924 - 2021
Sally Falk Moore, Victor S. Thomas Professor Emerita at Harvard University, passed away peacefully at the age of 97 on May 2, 2021 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Born Sally Lou Falk on January 18, 1924 in NYC, she attended the Lincoln School, Barnard College, and Columbia Law School. After briefly working on Wall Street, she became a staff attorney with the War Department at the Nuremberg Trials intended to bring Nazi war criminals to justice. There, she saw the limitations of law, sparking her life-long study of legal and political systems. She met David Cresap Moore in Haiti in 1948, while each was considering next steps in their lives. They returned together to NYC and Columbia University, married, and raised two daughters. Wherever they were living during the next seventy years, the family spent as much time as possible at their retreat in Truro on Cape Cod.
Professor Moore received her Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University in 1957. Her subsequent field work was in Tanzania, studying the interactions between indigenous, colonial, and post-colonial social and legal systems. She published widely, focusing largely on cross-cultural, comparative legal theory.
The Moores went to Los Angeles when Cresap joined the history department at UCLA. Professor Moore served on the faculty of USC (1963-1977) and UCLA (1977-1981). She was a Visiting Professor at Yale (1975-1976) and Harvard (1978).
The Moores moved to Cambridge in 1981, when Professor Moore joined Harvard as a Professor of Anthropology. During the 1980's and 1990's, she often taught a class in anthropology and law at Harvard Law School; she was later delighted to learn that one of her students was Barack Hussein Obama, though she had no memory of him from the class. The Moores were Co-Masters of Dunster House at Harvard (1984-1989). and she was Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1985-1989).
Professor Moore's honors accrued throughout her career. She was awarded the Ansley prize for her PhD dissertation, the Kalven Prize from the Law and Society Association, and the Huxley Memorial Medal from the Royal Anthropological Institute. She gave the Morgan Lectures (University of Rochester), the Beatty Lecture (McGill University), the Huxley Memorial Lecture (University of Manchester), the Brittingham Lecture (Law School, University of Wisconsin), and the Haskins Prize Lecture at the American Council of Learned Societies.
Sally Falk Moore was a devoted educator, mentor, and colleague and a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. In addition to her myriad professional accomplishments, she was known for her beauty, which she never failed to use to her advantage. She was a very good hostess and an ace double-solitaire player. She drank a small glass of vermouth every evening. Her husband of fifty years died in 2001. She is survived by her daughters, Penelope Moore and Nicola Moore, her grandsons, Benjamin Whitlock (Alison Thaler) and Samuel Moore (Michael Roytman), and by a host of students whose lives she touched.
Donations can be made in her name to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Published by New York Times from May 5 to May 6, 2021.