Sylvia Scribner (1923 - July 20, 1991) was an American psychologist and educational researcher who focused on the role of culture in literacy and learning. Her parents were Gussie and Harry Scribner, and Sylvia also had a sister, Shirley.
Sylvia was considered a "firebrand" as a child, due to her independence and constant critique of the world around her. She began writing poetry at a young age as well, and on the strength of her poetry received a full scholarship to Smith College. In 1943, Sylvia graduated from Smith College as Valedictorian and Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, she worked as the research director for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, where she worked towards inclusion and lobbied for women and minorities. Sylvia later returned to school, receiving a masters in psychology from the City University of New York (CUNY) and a PhD from the New School of Social Research in 1970. Sylvia held a series of positions prior to becoming a faculty member of the CUNY Graduate School in 1981, including: senior research associate at Rockefeller University (1970–1978); associate director of the National Institute of Education (1978–1979); and senior scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics (1979–1981). Sylvia held her position as a faculty member at CUNY until her death in 1991.
Sylvia has published a great deal, including various articles (Google Scholar for more information) and several books. Her seminal work is perhaps The Psychology of Literacy  with co-author Michael Cole, on linguistics and learning in the Vai of Liberia. She also contributed to a 1978 edition of Vygotsky's Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes, edited with Michael Cole, Vera John-Steiner, & Ellen Souberman.
After Sylvia died, the book Mind and social practice: Selected writings of Sylvia Scribner (a collection of her unpublished essays) was published in 1997. The editors, Ethel Tobach, Rachel Joffe Falmagne, Mary Brown Parlee, Laura M.W. Martin, & Aggie Scribner Kapelman, were all friends and colleagues of Sylvia, and prefaced the book with both personal and professional biographical details.
As a freshman at Smith College in 1940, Sylvia was a William Allen Neilson Scholar, and as a sophomore she received Arthur Ellis Hamm Scholarship Prize for her excellent academic scholarship. Later, in 1982, Sylvia and Michael Cole received the Melville J. Herskovits Prize in 1982 for The Psychology of Literacy.
In a powerful recognition of Sylvia's scholarship and contributions to the field, the American Educational Research Association annually awards the Scribner Award to outstanding scholars in the field of learning and instruction. Recipients include Marilyn Jager Adams, Richard C. Anderson, Gavriel Salomon, and Keith Stanovich.
Sylvia married David Scribner in 1953. They had two children together, Oliver and Aggie, and three children from David's previous marriage, Toni, Wendy, and Nancy. Sylvia was very invested in her family, and taught her children that one's professional life should include social consciousness and activism, despite the fact that while such a political focus can add to one's career, it can also greatly disrupt.