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'Phrenological Chart - Taken by Mrs Hamilton', published in England, 1830-1880

Mrs Hamilton was one of a number of female phrenologists. She practised free of charge in both Scotland and England. Why her services were free is unclear. Some contemporary accounts labelled Mrs Hamilton a “dirty old wench” and “illiterate and common”, but despite this she continued to practise. Hamilton argued that phrenology showed that men and women were mentally equal. Phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. In the early 1800s, phrenology became popular with large numbers of people who were interested in self-improvement. However, many in the medical world dismissed it as quackery.

Object number:

1981-1742

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Glossary:

Glossary: chart - graphic document

A tabular or graphic representation of a fluctuating or dependent variable, such as magnitude, temperature, cost, etc.

Glossary: phrenology

The study of the bumps on the outside of the skull in order to determine a person's character. It was based on the mistaken theory that the skull becomes modified according to the size of different parts of the brain.