Spurzheim, Johann Gasper papers, 1813-1835 (inclusive). B MS c22

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Spurzheim, Johann Gasper papers, 1813-1835 (inclusive). B MS c22


Spurzheim (Vienna, M.D. 1813) never practiced medicine but collaborated with Franz Joseph Gall between 1800 and 1813 on neuroanatomical research from which phrenology was conceived as a system of psychology. Gall believed behavior was organized hierarchically in the nervous system, that the brain was the organ of mental function, that moral and intellectual capacity were innate, and that all emotions and mental faculties are localized in different parts of the brain and may be described by the shape, especially size and irregularities, of the skull. In 1813 Spurzheim made a professional break with Gall and further elaborated on phrenology's claims, presenting it as a system capable of accounting for and solving social problems; he wrote on applications of phrenology to education and to psychiatry. Through public lecturing and publication, Spurzheim popularized phrenology to a wide audience; he died near Boston while on a lecture tour of the U.S. Contains Spurzheim's letters, 1813-1829, to his wife while he was traveling in Great Britain, Austria, and France; notes for lectures on phrenology, and notes on travel in America in 1832; draft of book; journal of trip from Paris to New York; and reading notes. Some of the material is written in French and German. Some letters refer to his relationship with Franz Joseph Gall.

Collection Items

Notes Concerning Education in General in the Un[ited] St[ates] of America
While on tour in America, Spurzheim made extensive notes on the scenery and institutions of the country, contrasting the conditions of New York, New Haven, Hartford, and Boston. These notes may have been intended for publication but were left…

Letter from Johann Gaspar Spurzheim to Honorine Spurzheim
During the course of his extensive travels through Europe and America, J. G. Spurzheim maintained a vigorous correspondence with his wife, Honorine, describing the people he met, the hospitals, prisons, and schools he visited, and the spread of…
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