Phrenology – Mid 19th to early 20th century

From the 1840s to the 1920s, the popular medical movement of Phrenology took hold in the U.S. During this time phrenology was similar to pop-psychology. Phrenology was the pseudo-science that claimed to be able to identify a person’s character by the bumps on their skull. The ‘evidence’ was the belief that the brain was made up of 37 unique organs that each controlled a behavior or personality trait. Many practitioners of Phrenology, including most famously the Fowler family, believed that the organs could be exercised and a person could have a better and happier life. It also had contemporary critics and a sinister side.

The Health Science Library has several distinctive artifacts from the mid-19th to early 20th Century practice of Phrenology on exhibit. Please visit the second floor rotunda to experience the past of Phrenology.

Paul Andrews, MA
Collection Development

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