Work in Boston

Ticket of Admission to the Demonstrative Course of Eighteen Lectures on Phrenology

Ticket of Admission to the Demonstrative Course of Eighteen Lectures on Phrenology

Boston's own contribution to the history of phrenology starts in the 1830s. The movement had come to the attention of Harvard professor, Dr. John Collins Warren (1778-1856) during a sojourn in Paris in 1801. Warren said, "The importance of phrenology is derived, according to my view, from the fact, that it leads to the development of the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system; and also the study of the forms of the crania enables us, in some measure, to understand the degree of intellectual power possessed by individuals." Warren had heard Spurzheim lecture in Europe, and, although he never considered himself an adherent of the movement, he made phrenology the subject of his 1820 annual address to the Massachusetts Medical Society and began to assemble a personal collection of brains and skulls for study.

On August 20th, 1832, J. G. Spurzheim arrived in Boston to lecture and promote phrenology. He brought letters of introduction to Dr. Warren and delivered a course of lectures on the anatomy of the brain at Harvard Medical School. During September and October, Spurzheim presented a series of popular lectures in Boston before "crowded and delighted audiences" and planned an additional series in Cambridge. He fell ill with a fever on October 17th though continued his programs until he collapsed ten days later. Spurzheim was attended by a number of Boston's medical luminaries but died on November 10th.