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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Phrenology model, 1860sPhrenology model, 1860s

For much of the nineteenth century, Americans looked to the pseudoscience of phrenology to decipher the mysteries of human behavior and personality. As this model illustrates, phrenologists believed the brain was divided into thirty-seven distinct physical organs, each responsible for a different trait such as acquisitiveness, benevolence, or spirituality. By "reading" the bumps on a person's head, a phrenologist could determine which characteristics were most prominent. While emphasizing the link between biology and behavior, phrenology also held that, through intellectual and moral exercise, individuals could alter the size and shape of their brain and thus improve their character. This bust, created by Lorenzo Niles Fowler, a leading manufacturer of phrenological paraphernalia, was purchased in 1961 for the medical history exhibition in the new Museum of History and Technology.

See also: Medical History

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