James Poskett

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
University of Cambridge

2013 to 2014
Research Fellow

Printing skulls: the transatlantic publication and reception of Crania Americana (1839)

Abstract: My project will explore how transatlantic connections shaped both the publication and the reception of Samuel George Morton’s Crania Americana (1839). In this book, Morton divides man into four races before linking these races to skull configuration. Morton’s work was extremely influential across the USA and Europe in the nineteenth century. As a central text in the history of scientific racism, it also remains controversial today. However, there have been no histories which consider the relevance of Morton’s extensive correspondence with physicians and phrenologists in Britain. Furthermore, there have been no studies which consider how Morton managed the reception of Crania Americana across the Atlantic Ocean, in Britain and Continental Europe. By consulting sources at the American Philosophical Society, the University of Pennsylvania, the Academy of Natural Sciences and the College of Physicians, I will be able to balance the picture I have produced from my research in British archives. Read James' report on his PACHS-sponsored research here.