February 2016 Historical Book of the Month

Illustration of Skull Measuring

This month’s featured historical book is Coomb’s Popular Phrenology by Frederick Coombs published in Boston in 1841. This monograph contains charts and illustrations of the exact phrenological – or skull – measurements of over fifty people. Phrenologists believed that each personality trait and mental faculty is represented in a specific area of the brain and that the size of the skull over that area determines the capacity for that attribute. By feeling the contours, bumps, and fissures of the skull, they claimed to be able to determine a person’s character and intellect.

For more information on the collections of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2406.