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Whipple Library

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

George Combe, 1836. From a painting by Sir Daniel Macnee, President of the Royal Scottish Academy


The Phrenology Collection also includes rare editions of the works of George Combe (1788–1858), the most influential British phrenologist and founder of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society (1820), the first of many societies devoted to the subject of phrenology. Combe's A system of phrenology was translated into French and German, and remained in print throughout the nineteenth century. Combe made several trips abroad to lecture on the subject of phrenology, including a visit to the United States in 1838-1840, where he gave lectures in several cities. His book recording details of his visit is also shown.


The portrait of Combe shown here is taken from The life of George Combe, author of 'The constitution of man' / by Charles Gibbon (London: Macmillan and Co., 1878), 2 vols. PH:V.77.


The life and correspondence of Andrew Combe, M.D. / by George Combe (Edinburgh: Maclachlan and Stewart, 1850) PH:78

The collection includes a presentation copy of Combe's biography of his brother Andrew.






A system of phrenology / by George Combe. 2nd ed. (Edinburgh: John Anderson Jun., 1825) PH:41





Notes on the United States of North America, during a phrenological visit in 1838-9-40 / by George Combe (Edinburgh: Maclachlan, Stewart, & Company, 1841), 3 vols. PH:71-73