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George Combe correspondence

Identifier: MSS 2/089

Scope and Contents

The first letter contains Combe’s defense of phrenology to correspondent who will soon attack system at a lecture before the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, 1829. Combe asks correspondent to provide him with objections beforehand and maintains that although phrenology explains the mind, it does not condition it.

In the second letter, Combe thanks Morton for gift of several works and comments on Inquiry into the distinctive characteristics of the aboriginal race of America and Crania Aegyptiana. The latter work has much ethnological and craniological interest. Combe then relates reaction to volume and questions of Dr. Kombst, a Prussian political refugee living in Philadelphia, about this work.


  • 1829, undated


Biographical / Historical

George Combe, Scottish phrenologist, was born in Edinburgh on 21 Oct. 1788. He attended the University of Edinburgh and studied law, but became a stauch advocate of phrenology. With his brother, Andrew, Combe formed a phrenological society in Edinburgh and published its transactions as well as the Phrenological journal. Combe modified the phrenological system of Gall and Spurzheim, made an extended speaking tour of the east coast of the United States (1838-1840), and published several works, including the Constitution of man considered in relation to external objects, Elements of phrenology, and a System of phrenology. He examined the heads of the children of Queen Victoria of England. Combe married Cecilia Siddons. He died in 1858.


2 folders

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Physical Location

Small collections
George Combe correspondence
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States