Article ID: CBB000954220

Skulls, Science, and the Spoils of War: Craniological Studies at the United States Army Medical Museum, 1868--1900 (2009)


Beginning in 1868, the United States Army Medical Museum issued a request to Army medical personnel situated in `Indian country' for specimens of skulls from Native Americans. The purpose of this collection was to promote the study of craniometry, a branch of racial science commonly used to delineate the different varieties of mankind and to rank them according to their perceived intellectual attributes. Yet, as this paper argues, the efforts of Army surgeons in amassing hundreds of crania for the Army Medical Museum were not matched by a similar level of commitment on the part of racial researchers. In examining why this seemingly impressive collection fell rapidly into disuse, this paper explores the creation and abandonment of one of the largest craniological collections formed in the United States in relation to the trajectory of craniometrical studies during this period. It also questions the link between the interests of racial researchers in the late nineteenth century and those of government policy makers, arguing that the two might not have been particularly closely aligned in the case of craniological research in Washington.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book P. Willey; Douglas D. Scott; (2015)
Health of the Seventh Cavalry: A Medical History (/isis/citation/CBB550184309/)

Chapter Douglas D. Scott; (2015)
Seventh Cavalry Regimental History (/isis/citation/CBB239505058/)

Article Alberto Zanatta; Giuliano Scattolin; Gaetano Thiene; Fabio Zampieri; (2016)
Phrenology between anthropology and neurology in a nineteenth-century collection of skulls (/isis/citation/CBB513838346/)

Article Carla Bittel; (2021)
Cranial Compatibility: Phrenology, Measurement, and Marriage Assessment (/isis/citation/CBB827397197/)

Book Fabian, Ann; (2010)
The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America's Unburied Dead (/isis/citation/CBB001033349/)

Thesis Courtney Elizabeth Thompson; (2015)
Criminal Minds: Medicine, Law, and the Phrenological Impulse in America, 1830-1890 (/isis/citation/CBB595020617/)

Article Mast, Brian J.; (2011)
Dr. Benjamin Rohrer's Artifact Collection (/isis/citation/CBB001200544/)

Article Stephen C Craig; (2016)
Joseph Lovell, MD (1788–1836): First US Army Surgeon General (/isis/citation/CBB823766462/)

Chapter P. Willey; Gary Plank; Douglas D. Scott; (2015)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Seventh Cavalry (/isis/citation/CBB142952813/)

Chapter P. Willey; (2015)
Regimental Strength and Background of Seventh Cavalry Troopers (/isis/citation/CBB339428666/)

Chapter Katie Cohan; (2015)
Cold Injuries in the Seventh Cavalry (/isis/citation/CBB500313734/)

Book Greenwood, John R.; Berry, F. Clifton, Jr.; (2005)
Medics at War: Military Medicine from Colonial Times to the 21st Century (/isis/citation/CBB000800018/)

Book T.J. Stiles; (2015)
Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America (/isis/citation/CBB298251953/)

Chapter Colleen Cheverko; Kristina Zarenko; (2015)
Malaria Prevalence in the Seventh Cavalry (/isis/citation/CBB327046723/)

Chapter P. Willey; Douglas D. Scott; (2015)
Seventh Cavalry Medical Records Compared with Battle of the Little Bighorn Skeletons (/isis/citation/CBB028823151/)

Chapter Billy Markland; Douglas D. Scott; P. Willey; (2015)
Frontier Post-Civil War Military Enlisted Men's Deaths and Those in the Seventh Cavalry (/isis/citation/CBB653734917/)

Authors & Contributors
P. Willey
Douglas D. Scott
Angevine, Robert G.
Greenwood, John R.
Berry, F. Clifton, Jr.
Fabian, Ann V.
Technology and Culture
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
History of Psychiatry
Journal of Medical Biography
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Naval Institute Press
University of Chicago Press
Alfred A. Knopf
University of Oklahoma Press
Yale University
Medicine and the military; medicine in war
Morton, Samuel George
Custer, George Armstrong
Lovell, Joseph
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
21st century
17th century
20th century, late
United States
Pennsylvania (U.S.)
Western states (U.S.)
Padua (Italy)
United States. Army
University of Padua

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment