American Anthropologist

Girls' Puberty Rites and Matrilocal Residence



This paper challenges the view of Judith K. Brown (1961) and Peter Kloos (1969) that matrilocal residence tends to cause girls' puberty rites. It shows how improbable this hypothesis is for western North America, where data are plentiful, and suggests that it is unlikely for the rest of the world. Girls' puberty rites seem to be earlier in most localities because of much greater world frequency and dominance among hunters, gatherers, and fishers, while matrilocal residence appears mainly to have stemmed from female hand farming at a later date. [causality, evolution, puberty rites—female, matrilocal residence, migration as agent of culture spread]