APS Library Bulletin headline
New Series, vol. 1, no. 1, Winter 2001
New Printed Materials, 2000
by the Printed Materials Staff


Phrenological diagram
Fig. 1: Phrenological diagram
From Fowler on Matrimony
The year 2000 has been an active one for the Library in terms of book acquisitions. Nearly 1,100 titles were accessioned by the Library, supporting its collections in physics, genetics, linguistics, arctic exploration, U.S. history, and anthropology - to name only a few areas. While the majority of the new accessions are of recent vintage, several eighteenth and nineteenth century works were added, the oldest of which was Charles Bonnet's Recherches Philosophiques sur les Preuves du Christianisme (Geneva: Claude Philibert, 1770). Between the oldest and most recent come the more interesting titles. A survey of the 2000 accessions has turned up the following as being among the more unique and interesting.

In 1842 the practical phrenologist, Orson Squires Fowler, published a small booklet titled Fowler on Matrimony: or Phrenology and Physiology Applied to the Selection of Companions for Life; including Directions to the Married for Living Together Affectionately and Happily. Fowler felt that through phrenology, the study of the bumps on the head, people could make better selections of compatible partners for marriage - leading to happier families and a happier nation. In his preface, Fowler claimed that his work was "designed to expound the laws of man's social and matrimonial constitution, and thereby to expose some of the evils caused by their violations." He further stated that the rules he espoused were "vitally important to the virtue and well being of man." His section headings no doubt reflect this work's peculiar virtues: "How to Secure Connubial Harmony," "Directions for Courting," "Rich Girls Make Poor Wives," and "Important Hints to Young Men." While Fowler's Matrimony will not find itself in the company of today's dating books on store shelves, it will be a useful resource for researchers at the Library looking at Victorian "pseudo-sciences."

Cover of Wilson's How to Magnetize
Fig. 2: Cover of James Victor Wilson, How to Magnetize
Fowler's was only one of a number of books on popular magnetism, animal magnetism, mesmerism, and phrenology acquired in 2000, adding to our fine core collections in these areas. James Victor Wilson's How to Magnetize, or, Magnetism and Clairvoyance (New York: S. R. Wells, 1879) was typical of the mid-century genre aimed at the therapeutic applications of popular magnetic theory, usually lumped under the heading "mesmerism" or "animal magnetism." The early phases of both phrenology and mesmerism have long been a collecting focus at the APS, but until this year, we had never had the American edition of a key work bolstering the scientific reputation of early phrenology, J.G. Spurzheim's Anatomy of the Brain (Boston: Marsh, Capen and Lyon, 1836). Phrenology began with the neuroanatomical research of the Austrian physician, Franz Joseph Gall, who proposed that the brain was comprised of numerous organs, each with a discrete function, and he further surmised that individual behavioral and personality traits could be mapped onto these organs.

Spurzheim, one of Gall's earliest disciples, was intimately involved in determining the patterns of localization of cerebral functions and in mapping personality onto them. His role in spreading phrenological gospel in Britain and the United States, in particular, make him something of the John the Baptist of the bump on the head set, but he remains a major figure in the development of scientific approaches to study of the brain.

figure from Spurzheim's Anatomy
Fig. 3: Figure from
J. G. Spurzheim, Anatomy of the Brain
An important acquisition to the Library's collection of natural history titles is William Swainson's On the Natural History and Classification of Quadrupeds published in London in 1835 as part of Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia series. Swainson's book provides insight into mid-nineteenth century views of natural history and the development of the field. The work is divided into sections entitled "On the Great Divisions of Organised Matter, and on the Relations which Quadrupeds Bear to Other Groups of the Animal Kingdom," "On the Natural History of Quadrupeds," and "The Class Mammalia, Arranged According to its Natural Affinities." The text is further enriched with several engravings of the different species.

Finally, the Library was fortunate to acquire a copy of Ferdinand V. Hayden's Geological and Geographical Atlas of Colorado and Portions of Adjacent Territory (U.S.: Department of the Interior, 1877). This atlas was based on the Hayden's pioneering survey of the southwest conducted between 1873 and 1876. In addition to some incredible geophysical and geological maps, it contains some wonderful panoramic views. An added bonus is that this volume is signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes, dated 28 October 1879.

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