The History of Phrenology on the Web
By Dr John van Wyhe

The evolution of phrenological images c. 1800; 1820; 1860.
Welcome to the most comprehensive website for the history of phrenology—the most popular Victorian science. This site provides an accurate overview of phrenology, the largest collection of phrenological images, and many digitized primary sources relevant not only to the history of phrenology, but also to the history of naturalism and evolutionary thought.

What was phrenology? an overview.

Phrenology in literature some of the best-selling Victorian books were influenced by phrenology.

The phrenological Organs i.e. 'the bumps'- several lists to compare.

Texts a large collection of books, articles & extracts.

Images portraits, busts, skulls etc.

Critical Bibliography a definitive source for primary & secondary works. Frequently updated.

Ridiculing phrenology just for fun.

Newly published: John van Wyhe, Phrenology and the origins of Victorian scientific naturalism (2004). (Amazon link)

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Many people have kindly contributed to this project including: Aileen Fyfe, Jim & Anne Secord, Cordula van Wijhe, Lisle Dalton, Wolfgang Schütz, Anthony Walsh, John Henderson, and Antranig Basman. Sadly, none of its shortcomings can be blamed on them but remain my own.

-Reviews of & links to this site.

About the author

This page last modified 10 May, 2005


The contents of this site are protected by national and international copyright law. Quotations or paraphrases of its contents should be properly cited, for example: John van Wyhe, The History of Phrenology on the Web (, [day, month], 2004. Permission is not granted to re-post or alter the contents in any way. If you wish to duplicate information or images from this site, other than for use in teaching, please request permission.
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Copyright © John van Wyhe 1999-2004.