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Phrenology Head

"Secretiveness," "individuality," "sublimity," "combativeness," "blandness"
These are just some of the descriptors that adorn this phrenology head made by Lorenzo Niles Fowler. "For thirty years," reads an inscription by Fowler on the back of the base, "I have studied Crania and living heads from all parts of the world and have found in every instance that there is a perfect correspondence [sic] between the conformation of the healthy skull of an individual and his known characteristics." This pseudo-science of phrenology was popular in the United States from the mid-to the late 1800s. It postulated that the brain was divided into 37 separate physical organs, and that the size of these organs determined personal characteristics and abilities. Phrenology promised that an individual could reform himself or herself by improving underdeveloped organs of the brain--"benevolence," perhaps, or "compassion," "spirituality," "love of family," "friendship," and "self esteem."

Lorenzo Niles Fowler, along with his brother Orson Squire and brother-in-law, Samuel R. Wells, formed the Fowler & Wells agency in New York, which became the major purveyor of phrenological materials, including books, journals, and paraphernalia.
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Learn more!
· Inscription on Base of Model
· "Facing a Bumpy History," "Smithsonian" magazine, 1997

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