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'A Phrenological Chart of Character', booklet, London, England, 1879-1921

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Phrenology was popular in the 1800s and the early 1900s. Phrenologists claimed that by feeling the lumps and bumps of the skull (and thus the underlying brain) they could determine someone’s character and personality. Although phrenology became popular with large numbers of people in the 1800s, it soon became controversial within medical circles, and was eventually dismissed by the medical profession as quackery. The subject was always controversial in medical circles. Titled A Phrenological Chart of Character, this booklet records a consultation given in 1921 at the London Phrenological Institution. Written by E Stackpool O’Dell, a phrenologist, and his wife, the booklet gives information about the person’s character, health, diet and appropriate marriage partner. The O’Dells set up the London Institute and Mr O’Dell sometimes styled himself as a “professor of phrenology”.

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Glossary: booklet

Small book consisting of a few sheets that are glued, stitched or stapled together between thin card or paper covers.

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.