The Vault

How Cultured Are You, by 1950s Standards? 

The three questionnaires below come from Ashley Montagu’s 1958 book, The Cultured Man. Montagu—a well-respected anthropologist and former student of Franz Boas, who was influential in his profession’s midcentury rejection of the idea of innate racial hierarchywrote many popular books, of which The Cultured Man is one. 

The book contains quizzes for 50 categories of knowledge in the arts and sciences, with 30 questions each; 25 of the questions test knowledge and five test what Montagu called “attitudes.” The test-taker could refer to the answers at the back of the book and tap the list of references Montagu offered as correctives to those who found themselves deficient in a particular area.

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Distinguishing his project from that of the quiz shows that were popular staples of radio and TV in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Montagu wrote that a person considered “cultured” would not just be able to readily summon facts, but also to access humane feelings, which would necessarily come about after contact with culture. “The principal mark of the cultured man is not so much knowledge as his attitude of mind in relating his knowledge to the world of experience,” Montagu wrote. A “cultured man” would be curious, unprejudiced, rational, and ethical. 

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“The function of these questions is not a static one,” Montagu wrote, encouraging readers to see the experience of being tested as an educational opportunity. “Their function is both dynamic and constructive: to tell you more or less exactly where you stand as a cultured person, and precisely in which directions you need to move from that position. No one grows who stands still.” 

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Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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Click here to see the answers.

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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Click here to see the answers.

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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Click here to see the answers.

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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Click here to return to the next quiz.

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

Click here to return to the next quiz.

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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Ashley Montagu, The Cultured Man (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1958)

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