Phrenological bust by LN FowlerPhrenological bust by LN FowlerThe History of Phrenology on the Web

by John van Wyhe

Digitized primary sources
Diagram from Blde, 1806.

- Books - Articles & Extracts - Secondary sources


Broussais, François-Joseph-Victor, Cours de phrénologie. Paris, 1836. [uncorrected rtf].

[Chambers, Robert,] Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. [Illustrated html]. With web introduction.

[Chambers, Robert,] Explanations: A Sequel to "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation" By the author of that work. 1845. [rtf].

Combe, George, A System of Phrenology, 2 vols., 5th edn, 1853. [Illustrated html].

Combe, George, The Life and Correspondence of Andrew Combe M.D. 1850. [uncorrected rtf].

Combe, George, The Constitution of Man. 3rd American edn Boston 1834. [Only partially corrected rtf] (For a reliable digitization see the 8th edn below).

Combe, George, The Constitution of Man. 8th edn Edninburgh, 1847. [Illustrated html]; With web introduction.

Combe, George, Science and religion. 1893 (First published 1857) Combe's final and strongest statement of his secular doctrine of the natural laws. [rtf].

Donovan, Cornelius, A Handbook of Phrenology. London, 1870. (One chapter only) [Illustrated html]

Flourens, Pierre, Examen de la Phrénologie. Paris, 1851. [uncorrected rtf] and English translation: Phrenology examined. trans. by C. de Lucena Meigs, Philadelphia, 1846. [uncorrected html].

Flourens, Pierre, De la phrénologie et des études vraies sur le cerveau. Paris 1863. [uncorrected rtf].

Fossati, Giovanni Antonio Lorenzo, Manuel pratique de la phrénologie : ou Physiologie d'un cerveau d'après les doctrines de Gall, de Spurzheim, de Combe et des autres phrénologistes. Paris, 1845. [uncorrected rtf].

Fossati, G.A., 'Gall' in Nouvelle Biographie Générale. Paris, 1857, vol. XIX, pp. 271-283. Fossati was a long-time friend of Gall's and his biography is particularly useful for a representation of Gall's personality and habits.

Gall, F.J. and G. Spurzheim, Anatomie et physiologie du système nerveux en général et anatomie du cerveau en particulier, avec des observations sur la possibilité de reconnoître plusieurs dispositions intellectuelles et morales de l'homme et des animaux, par la configuration de leurs têtes. Paris, F. Schoell, 1810; Gall, F.J., & Spurzheim, G., vol 2, 1812; Gall, F.J., vol 3, 1818; Gall, F.J., vol 4, 1819. [uncorrected rtf].

Gall, F.J., Discours d'ouverture, lu... à la première séance de son cours public sur la physiologie du cerveau, le 15 janvier 1808. Paris : F. Didot, 1808. [uncorrected rtf].

Gall, F.J. and G. Spurzheim, Des dispositions innées de l'âme et de l'esprit : du matérialisme, du fatalisme et de la liberté morale, avec des réflexions sur l'éducation et sur la législation criminelle. Paris, 1811. [uncorrected rtf].

Gall, F.J. & G. Spurzheim, Recherches sur le système nerveux en général, et sur celui du cerveau en particulier; Mémoire présenté à l'Institut de France, le 14 mars, 1808; suivi d'observations sur le Rapport qui en à été fait à cette compagnie par ses Commissaires, Paris, 1809. [uncorrected rtf].

Gall, F.J., Sur les fonctions du cerveau et sur celles de chacune de ses parties. avec des observations sur la possibilité de reconnaitre les instincts, les penchans, les talens, ou les dispositions morales et intellectuelles des hommes et des animaux, par la configuration de leur cerveau et de leur tête. 6 vols. Paris: J. B. Baillière, 1822-25. Volume one. [uncorrected rtf].

Gibbon, The Life of George Combe: Author of "The Constitution of Man." 2 vols. 1878. [uncorrected rtf]. Volume 1 & volume 2.

Hollander, Bernard, Scientific phrenology: Being a practical mental science and guide to huustrated text-book. London, 1902. [Illustrated html].

Lundie, The Phrenological Mirror; or, Delineation Book. 1844. A typical practical phrenology pamphlet. 15pp. [Illustrated html].

Spurzheim, Johann Gaspar, Manuel de Phrénologie. Paris, Porthmann, 1832. [uncorrected rtf].

Spurzheim, Johann Gaspar, Observations sur la folie ou Sur les dérangements des fonctions morales et intellectuelles de l'homme. Paris, Treuttel et Würtz, 1818. [uncorrected rtf].

Spurzheim, Johann Gaspar, Observations sur la phraenologie. Paris 1818. [uncorrected rtf].

Spurzheim, Johann Gaspar, Outlines of Phrenology; being also a manual of reference for the marked busts. London, 1827. [Illustrated html]

Spurzheim, Johann Gaspar, Phrenology: or the doctrine of the mental phenomena. Philadelphia, 1908. [A late edition of The physiognomical System 1815. Illustrated html]



Anon, Announcement of founding of Phrenological Society of Philadelphia with list of officers.[text]

Anon, 'Introductory Statement', Phrenological Journal and Miscellany, 1823, pp. iii-xxxi. [html] A founding statement by the first phrenologists.

Anon, 'List of Members of the Phrenological Association, at 19th September 1840 [with dates from 27 Aug 1839 of persons who joined],' Phrenological Journal, 13, 1841, pp. 119-23 and 'List of A-40.

Anon, Review of 'Combe's System of Phrenology', Medico-Chirurgical Review, 1831. pp. 2 [html]

Anon, Review of Spurzheim's Physiognomical System, Quarterly Review, 13, Apr. 1815, pp. 159-78. The first major anti-phrenological publication in Britain. [html] (as yet uncorrected)

Barber, J., An Address Delivered Before the Boston Phrenological Society on the Evening of its Organization at the Masonic Temple, Dec. 31, 1832 . Boston, 1833.

Beale, L. John, The Laws of Health, in Relation To Mind and Body, 1851. [uncorrected text] Final chapter only- interesting influences of Combe's Constitution of Man apparent here.

Carpenter, William, Principles of mental physiology, 1874, Appendix pp. 709-722. [Illustrated html].

Gall, F. J., & Spurzheim, 'Cerveau', Dictionaire des Sciences Medicales. vol. 4, Paris, 1813, pp. 447-9. [uncorrected html].

Gall, F. J., & Spurzheim, 'Crâne', Dictionnaire des sciences médicales, vol. 7, Paris, 1813, pp. 260-266. [uncorrected html].

Gall, F.J., letter to von Retzer, 1798. (which outlines his system) auf Deutsch and English translation [html].

[Gordon, John], 'The Doctrines of Gall and Spurzheim.' Edinburgh Review, 25, June, 1815, pp. 227-268. One of the most important reviews ever published on phrenology.

Goyder, David, G., My Battle for Life: The Autobiography of a Phrenologist. 1857. (Brief excerpts only). [uncorrected text]

Hamilton, William, The anti-phrenological works of Sir William Hamilton [html].

Hatfield, W., Handwritten phrenological character analysis of Miss M.J.A Percival, Scarboro, 1912. [html transcription].

[Jeffrey, Francis,] 'A System of Phrenology', Edinburgh Review, 44, Sept, 1826, pp. 253-318. An important review of phrenology. [html].

Kemble, Fanny, Record of a Girlhood, 1879, pp. 230-265. [uncorrected text] Personal reminiscences of the Combe brothers.

Lewes, George Henry, "Phrenology," from idem The Biographical History of Philosophy from its origins in Greece down to the present day. 1857. [uncorrected text].

'LIST OF MEMBERS OF THE [Edinburgh] PHRENOLOGICAL SOCIETY' & 'PROCEEDINGS OF THE PHRENOLOGICAL SOCIETY' from the [Edinburgh] Phrenological Journal, 3, (1826), pp. 476-81.

McCosh, James, Rev., The Method of the Divine Government, Physical and Moral. 1850. TOC, index, and 4 page note on Combe's Constitution. [text] (See Combe's reply in Combe, G., Science and religion.)

Möbius, Paul J., 'Goethe und Gall', in Goethe. idem Ausgewählte Werke, vol. 3, part 2, Leipzig, 1903, pp. 213-2 [html].

Mill, John Stuart, 'Nature' from Three Essays on Religion, 1854. [text] Mill finds the for spreading a confused view of nature.

Moscati, "Biographical Paper on the Character and Phrenological Organization of Dr. Spurzheim 'London Phrenological Society', Lancet, 1832. [uncorrected text].

Sleeper, Proceedings of the Boston Phrenological Society, for the year 1835. Being a Report (unofficial) read to the Society, Jan. 14, 1836. [txt].

Spurzheim, Johann Gaspar, The Anatomy of the Brain, with a General View of the Nervous System. 1826. [Preface & plates].

Warne, Joseph, On the Harmony Between the Scriptures and Phrenology. Edin., 1836. [uncorrected html].

Williams, Mattieu, A Vindication of Phrenology. 1894. Selections taken from Gall, Combe, and Spurzheim etc. [uncorrected text].


See also: Other phrenological texts on-line

Other phrenology sites and Other historical sources on-line


Secondary works:

Walsh, A. A., (1984). Johann Christoph Spurzheim, in memoriam. History of Psychology, April. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A.,(1984). Phrenology applied, the trial and imprisonment of Major Mitchell. History of Psychology, April. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A., (1976). The "new science of the mind" and the Philadelphia physicians in the early 1800's. Transactions and Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 4th Series, 43(4), 397-415. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A., (1976). Phrenology and the Boston medical community in the 1830's. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 50, 261-273. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A., (1975). Dictionary of Scientific Biography, s.v.., Johann Christoph Spurzheim, (11), 596-597. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A., (1972). Review of M.B. Stern's book Heads and Headlines, The Phrenological Fowlers, (Norman, Oklahoma, 1971). Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 8, 439-441. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A.,(1972). The American tour of Dr. Spurzheim. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 27, 187-205. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A., (1971). George Combe, a portrait of a heretofore generally unknown behaviorist. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 7, 269-278. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A., (Ed.) (1970). Introduction to Observations on the Deranged Manifestations of the Mind, or Insanity, by J.G. Spurzheim (Boston, 1833), Gainesville, Florida: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A. (Ed.) (1972). Introduction to Observations on Mental Derangement, Being an Application of the Principles of Phrenology to the Elucidation of the Causes, Symptoms, Nature and Treatment of Insanity, by Andrew Combe (Boston, 1834), Delmar, New York: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints. [pdf]

Walsh, A. A., (1970). Is phrenology foolish? A rejoinder. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 6, 358-361. [pdf]

Wyhe, John, van, 'The authority of human nature: the Schädellehre of Franz Joseph Gall', British Journal for the History of Science, 2002.

Wyhe, John, van, Phrenology and the origins of Victorian scientific naturalism, Ashgate, 2004.

Wyhe, John, van, Combe's Constitution of Man, and Nineteenth-Century Responses, 3 vols, Thoemmes Press, 2004.

Wyhe, John, van, 'Was phrenology a reform science? Towards a new generalization for phrenology?', History of Science, xlii, 2004, pp. 313-331.

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