[Adapted in 1999 for the Victorian Web with the kind permission of the author (who later became a Senior Research Fellow for this site) from The History of Phrenology on the Web, his extensive UK site; all but one of the off-site links go to his site. Updated in 2014 by Diane Greco Josefowicz.]

Early 1790s Franz Joseph Gall (off-site link) creates his system of organology and brain anatomy in Vienna.
1796 Gall lectures on his system at his home in Vienna.
1798In December, Gall's first account of the system appears in the Neue Teutsche Merkur.
1800 J. G. Spurzheim (off-site link) begins to attend Gall's lectures.
1801In December, Emperor Francis II issues a decree that forbids Gall's lectures and bans him from publishing the same.
1804 Spurzheim becomes Gall's paid dissectionist and assistant.
1805-1807 Gall tours Europe, giving lectures on phrenology. Spurzheim accompanies him as his paid assistant.
1807 In October, Gall arrives in Paris.
1808In March, Gall and Spurzheim submit a Mémoire to the Institut de France outlining (for the first time) "their" anatomical and physiological claims.
1810 Gall and Spurzheim begin publication of Anatomie et physiologie du système nerveux en général, et du cerveau en particulier, Avec des observations sur las possibilité de reconnoître plusieurs dispositions intellectuelles et morales de l'homme et des animaux, par la configuration de leurs têtes.This text appears in four volumes between 1810 and 1819. Only the first two volumes include Spurzheim as co-author.
1813 Gall and Spurzheim part company forever.
1814 In March, Spurzheim arrives in Britain to lecture on Gall's system.
1815
  • Spurzheim begins to publish on the new system, starting with The Physiognomical System of Drs. Gall and Spurzheim; founded on an Anatomical and Physiological Examination of the Nervous System in general, and of the Brain in Particular; and indicating the Dispositions and Manifestations of the Mind.
  • Scathing articles in the Edinburgh Review (off-site link) and Quarterly Review (off-site link) lambast Spurzheim while simultaneously giving him national exposure.
  • Dr. Thomas I.M. Forster names the system phrenology.
  • 1816-17 In Edinburgh, Spurzheim faces down his critics, especially John Gordon, and makes devout converts to the science.
    1817 George Combe begins to publish articles about phrenology.
    1819
  • Combe publishes his first book on phrenology, Essays on Phrenology (off-site link).
  • Sir George Steuart Mackenzie's Illustrations of Phrenology published.
  • 1820 Edinburgh Phrenological Society (off-site link) established by George and Andrew Combe, David Welsh, James Brownlee, William Waddell, and Lindsey Mackersey.
    1821 Transactions of the [Edinburgh] Phrenological Society published.
    1822
  • George Combe begins to lecture on phrenology in Edinburgh.
  • Philadelphia Phrenological Society (off-site link) established (the first in USA)
  • 1823
  • Gall lectures briefly in London.
  • London Phrenological Society established by John Elliotson, B. Donkin, J. DeVille.
  • The first journal of phrenology, the Phrenological Journal of Edinburgh, is founded in December.
  • 1824 George Combe's Elements of Phrenology (off-site link) published.
    1825 Wakefield Phrenological Society established by William Ellis.
    1826 Francis Jeffrey's attack on phrenology appears in the Edinburgh Review (off-site link).
    1826-27 Sir William Hamilton engages in controversy with Combe and Spurzheim(off-site link).
    1827-28Schism in the Edinburgh Phrenological Society between evangelicals and Combeans over Combe's doctrine of the natural laws.
    1828
  • George Combe publishes Constitution of Man (off-site link).
  • Gall dies near Paris.
  • 1830
  • Manchester Phrenological Society established.
  • Dublin Phrenological Society established (?).
  • 1831
  • Paris Phrenological Society established.
  • Spurzheim last lectures in Britain.
  • 1832
  • Spurzheim dies in Boston, Massachusetts while on lecture tour.
  • Boston Phrenological Society established.
  • 1833 The Fowlers begin their phrenological lecturing concerns in New York.
    1836 Aberdeen Phrenological Society established.
    1838
  • [British] Phrenological Association first meets in Newcastle. The group formed after the British Association for the Advancement of Science had spurned the phrenologists.
  • American Phrenological Journal founded in Philadelphia.
  • Birmingham Phrenological Society established.
  • 1839 Phrenological Association meets in Birmingham.
    1840s George Combe, Robert Noel, and Dr Gustav Scheve lecture on phrenology in Germany.
    1840
  • Phrenological Association meets in Glasgow.
  • Exeter Phrenological Society established.
  • Hewett Watson, one of the foremost phrenologists, abandons the science.
  • 1841
  • Phrenological Association meets in London.
  • Dumfries Phrenological Society established.
  • 1842
  • Another great schism created at meeting of the Phrenological Association in London when W. Engeldue declares phrenology proves truth of materialism.
  • Sheffield Phrenological Society established.
  • [London] Christian Phrenological Society established by John Epps and J. Hawkins.
  • 1843
  • Lancaster Phrenological Society established.
  • Zeitschrift für Phrenologie (1843-45) founded in Heidelberg by Dr. E. Hirschfeld and Gustav von Struve.
  • 1844 Robert Chambers publishes Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, which joins phrenological naturalism with transmutation.
    1845
  • Gustav von Struve, Handbuch der Phrenologie.
  • Chambers, Explanations (off-site link), the sequel to Vestiges (off-site link), is published.
  • 1850s Phrenological societies are mostly defunct, and few publications on the subject remain; the early advocates are either aged or dead. The science is largely discredited and moribund in Britain.
    1858 George Combe dies at Dr. Lane's hydropathic establishment at Moor Park where Charles Darwin's daughter Etty is also being treated.
    1861 George Burgess begins practicing phrenology in the Arcades, Bristol (continues until 1901) [added by GPL]
    1860s "Phrenological Fowlers" come to Britain from USA and bring about a revival of phrenology.
    1863 Fowler Institute, London, established by L. N. Fowler.
    1870 Last meeting of Edinburgh Phrenological Society.
    1881 British Phrenological Society established.
    1911 American Phrenological Journal ceased publication.
    1967 British Phrenological Society disbanded.

    Victorian Overview Science

    19 May 2014