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Krohne-type goniometer, London, England, 1860-1926

A goniometer is used to measure angles of the body such as joint movements. In the 1800s, new instruments were made and new standards applied to measurement of the human body (anthropometry). Data was collected in attempts to classify people according to their physical appearance, which was mistakenly believed to be linked to intellectual abilities. The instrument was made by Krohne & Sesemann, surgical instrument makers based in London. Krohne invented this type of goniometer. The device belonged to Sir Henry Morris (1844-1926), a British surgeon. A set of Morris’s instruments was presented to the Wellcome collections on his death.

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Glossary: goniometer

An instrument for measuring angles, such as those made by joint movements.

Glossary: anthropometry

The measuring of body parts so that comparisons can be made. The aim is to measure normal and abnormal development. In the past, it has also been used in attempts to measure racial difference.