Highlights From the Warren Anatomical Museum

The collections inside this museum hold intriguing objects that tell the story of 19th century American medicine

An 1868 surgery kit, part of Harvard's Warren Anatomical Museum. (Warren Anatomical Museum)

Phrenology cast of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1810

Phrenology cast of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1810
(Warren Anatomical Museum)

The above life mask was from the collection of Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, M.D., one of the last purveyors of phrenology, the study of the skull based on the belief that certain physical characteristics contribute to intelligence, success or even criminality. Spurzheim made plaster casts of known individuals, including poet and philosopher Samuel T. Coleridge, for study and teaching. While lecturing on phrenology in Boston in 1832, Spurzheim died of typhoid and the Boston Phrenological Society inherited his 300-cast collection, which was later purchased by Warren and donated to the museum in 1847.


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