Ruth Hallo Landman, 78, an American University anthropology professor from 1964 to about 1990 who had served as department chairman and president of the faculty senate, died June 19 at a hospice in Cambridge, Mass. She had Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Landman's specialty was modern cultural anthropology, and she advocated "applied anthropology," training her students to understand and solve social problems outside academia.
She studied alcoholism across ethnic groups; the acculturation of Mexican immigrants in the United States; police-community relations; the roots of racism; and the creation of community through community gardening and yard sales.
She wrote the book "Creating Community in the City: Cooperatives and Community Gardens in Washington, D.C." (1993).
She was born to a Jewish family in Kassel, Germany, and left the country on a "Kinder Transport" train with her two siblings in 1939. Arriving in England, she waited for her mother, who also managed to flee from the Nazis. Her father died before the Nazis' rise to power.
As a youngster, she settled in New York and lived with relatives. She was a 1947 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vassar College, where she edited a student newspaper and chaired the political association.
She received a master's degree in anthropology from Columbia University, where she studied under Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead, and a doctorate in anthropology from Yale University.
She settled in the Washington area in the late 1950s, living mostly in Bethesda. She moved to Cambridge last year.
She was a founding member of Bethesda Jewish Congregation. She did volunteer fundraising work for the Democratic Party in Montgomery County and did volunteer work answering mail for the office of then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Her husband of 54 years, Otto Landman, died in 2003.
Survivors include three children, Wendy Landman of Cambridge, Mass., Jessica Landman of Takoma Park and Jonathan Landman of Newton, Mass.; a sister; a brother; and six grandchildren.