Francis Galton as Anthropologist:


His interest in heredity led Galton to anthropometry; that is, the measurement of human characteristics. It had become clear to him that statistical investigation of data was reliable only when dealing with large sample sizes. In order to collect a sizeable amount of data he created an "Anthropometric Laboratory", which was included in the International Health Exhibition held in London in 1885.  As part of this work, Galton devised the first scientific mental measurements, and thereby founded psychometrics.

The (First) Anthropometric laboratory at the International Health Exhibition

The laboratory tested exhibit goers with instruments that Galton often had to design himself and have made to his specifications. His mechanical ingenuity quickly produced many of instruments and techniques, most of which were highly successful.


Some of Galton's instruments for measuring vision.

Subjects were happy to pay for the privilege of being tested, in exchange for a copy of their measurements. In this way Galton was able to collect over 9000 sets of data for different individuals, obtaining a reasonably representative sample. However, Galton's collection of data was so successful that processing it all was a problem; doing so required many hours of dedicated effort, and the required techniques for analyzing it had yet to be invented.  Proper treatment of a sizeable portion of this data would have to wait until the 1920s and 30s.

Following the enormous success of his exhibit, Galton established a permanent version of the laboratory at the South Kensington museum, and continued to collect data for many years.  The first full analysis of this data would only take place in 1980s, when the statistical techniques and computer-based analysis were mature and fast enough to handle the task.

Franz Boas, the famous anthropologist, was aware of Galton's work, which he refers to in the following article: 'Remarks on the theory of Anthropometry' published in the Journal of the American Statistical Association, in 1893.

Facsimile Paper 1874 'Proposal to apply for anthropological statistics from schools.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 3 : 308-11
Facsimile Paper 1875 Notes on the Marlborough School statistics. Journal of the Anthropological Institute 4 : 130-5
Facsimile Paper 1876 'On the height and weight of boys aged 14, in town and country public schools.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 5 : 174-80
Facsimile Paper 1877 Anthropometry [Address to the Department of Anthropology, Section H.] Nature 16 : 344-7
Facsimile Paper 1877 Anthropometry [Address to the Department of Anthropology, Section H.] Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science : 94-100
Facsimile Report 1877 Report of the Anthropometric Committee Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 47 : 231-2
Facsimile Letter 1879 'The average flush of excitement.' [Letter] Nature 20 : 121
Facsimile Letter 1880 'The opportunities of science masters at schools.' [Letter]. Nature 22 (May 6) : 9-10
Facsimile Paper 1881 Report of the Anthropometric Committee Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 51 : 225-72
Facsimile Paper 1881 'On the application of composite portraiture to anthropological purposes.' Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 51 : 3
Facsimile Paper 1882 'The anthropometric laboratory.' Fortnightly Review 31 : 332-8
Facsimile Paper 1883 'On apparatus for testing the delicacy of the muscular and other senses in different persons.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 12 : 469-77
Facsimile Paper 1883 'Final Report of the Anthropometric Committee.' Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science : 253-306
Facsimile Letter 1884 'The cost of anthropometric measurements.' [Letter] Nature 31 : 150
Facsimile Paper 1884 'The weights of British noblemen during the last three generations.' Nature 29 : 266-8
Facsimile Paper 1885 'On the Anthropometric Laboratory at the late International Health Exhibition.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 14 : 205-18
Facsimile Paper 1885 'Some results of the Anthropometric Laboratory.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 14 : 275-87
Facsimile Paper 1885 'The measure of fidget.' Nature 32 (June 25) : 174-5
Facsimile Paper 1886 Opening remarks by the President and discussion on 'Experiments in testing the character of school children,' Sophie Bryant Journal of the Anthropological Institute 15 : 336-8, 350
Facsimile Paper 1887 'On recent designs for anthropometric instruments.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 16 : 2-8
Facsimile Interview 1888 [Interview with Francis Galton on Anthropometric Laboratory] Pall Mall Gazette (November 16) : 1-2
Facsimile Paper 1888 'On head growth in students at the University of Cambridge.' Nature 38 : 14-5
Facsimile Paper 1889 Human Variety [Address delivered at the annual meeting of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland] Journal of the Anthropological Institute 18 : 401-19
Facsimile Paper 1889 'Anthropometric Statistics from Amherst College, Mass. U.S.A.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 18 : 192-9
Facsimile Paper 1889 'On head growth in students at the University of Cambridge.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 18 : 155-6
Facsimile Letter 1889 'Head measures at Cambridge.' [Letter] Nature 40 : 643
Facsimile Paper 1889 'On the principle and methods of assigning marks for bodily efficiency.' Nature 40 : 631-2
Facsimile Letter 1889 'Head growth in students at the University of Cambridge.' [Letter] Nature 40 : 318
Facsimile Paper 1889 'On the advisability of assigning marks for bodily efficiency in the examination of candidates for public services.' Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 59 : 471-3
Facsimile Paper 1889 'On the principle and methods of assigning marks for bodily efficiency.' Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 59 : 474-8
Facsimile Paper 1890 Physical tests in competitive examinations. Journal of the Society of Arts 39 : 19-27
Facsimile Paper 1890 'Why do we measure mankind?' Lippincott's Monthly Magazine 45 : 236-41
Facsimile Paper 1890 'Cambridge anthropometry.' Nature 41 : 454
Facsimile Paper 1890 'A new instrument for measuring the rate of movement of the various limbs.' (summary) Nature 42 : 143
Facsimile Paper 1891 'A new instrument for measuring the rate of movement of the various limbs.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 20 : 200-4
Facsimile Paper 1892 International Anthropometry. Bulletin De L'Institut International De Statistique 6 : 10-2
Facsimile Paper 1892 'Retrospect of work done at my anthropometric laboratory at South Kensington.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 21 : 32-5
Facsimile Paper 1892 'Boston School Boys' Science 20 (510, November 11) : 274-5
Facsimile Paper 1893 'Optical continuity.' Nature 47 : 342-5
Facsimile Report 1893 Mr. F. Galton on "The Just-Perceptible Difference". Times, The (January 30) : 14b
Facsimile Paper 1894 The relative sensitivity of men and women at the nape of the neck, by Weber's test Nature 50 : 40-2
  Paper 1894 L'Audition coloree et les phenomenes similaires Ztschr. Ohrenheilk 25 : 342-3
Facsimile Paper 1906 Measurement of Resemblance Scientific American Supplement 62 (December 22) : 25898

Galton's other anthropological writings ranged from race to demography; they reflect his long running involvement with the Royal Anthropological Institute, and his determined efforts to ground the discipline in the gathering and analysis of hard data.

 

Facsimile Report 1863 [Remarks on Race] Reader, The 2 : 324
Facsimile Paper 1875 'On the excess of females in the West Indian Islands, from documents communicated to the Anthropological Institute of the Colonial Office.' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 4 : 136-7
Facsimile Paper 1876 [Discussion of 'Ultra-Centenarian Longevity', G. D. Gibb] Journal of the Anthropological Institute 5 : 98-9
Facsimile Paper 1880 Report of the Anthropological Committee. [contributor] Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 50 : 120-159
Facsimile Paper 1882 [Discussion on 'On the laws affecting the relations between civilized and savage life as bearing on the dealings of colonists with aborigines', H. Bartle Frere] Journal of the Anthropological Institute 11 : 352-3
Facsimile Paper 1883 Medical Family Registers Fortnightly Review 34 (August) : 244-50
Facsimile Paper 1884 [Discussion on 'On the races of the Congo and the Portuguese colonies in Western Africa', H. H. Johnston] Journal of the Anthropological Institute 13 : 478-9
Facsimile Letter 1884 Mr. Francis Galton's Proposed 'Family Registers' Science (January 4) : 3
Facsimile Letter 1884 Prize Family Records. Times, The (June 27) : 12a
Facsimile Letter 1884 Prize Records of Family Faculties. Times, The (May 19) : 9e
Facsimile Paper 1885 Types and their Inheritance [Presidential address, Section H, Anthropology] Nature 32 : 507-10
Facsimile Paper 1887 [Address delivered at the anniversary meeting of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland] Journal of the Anthropological Institute 16 : 387-402
Facsimile Paper 1887 [Opening remarks by the President] Journal of the Anthropological Institute 16 : 175-7
Facsimile Paper 1887 Opening Remarks on 'The native Races of America (West India)' Journal of the Anthropological Institute 16 : 189-90
Facsimile Paper 1887 North American pictographs. Nature 36 : 155-7
Facsimile Paper 1888 [Address delivered at the anniversary meeting of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland] Journal of the Anthropological Institute 17 : 346-54
Facsimile Paper 1888 [Discussion on 'On an Ancient British Settlement excavated near Rushmore, Salisbury', Pitt Rivers] Journal of the Anthropological Institute 17 : 199-200
Facsimile Paper 1889 [Remarks on the 'Exhibition of an ancient Peruvian gold breastplate'] Journal of the Anthropological Institute 18 : 274
Facsimile Paper 1889 On the principle and methods of assigning marks for bodily efficiency. (part 2) Nature 40 : 649-52
Facsimile Paper 1892 [Presidential address to the Division of Demography] Transactions of the Seventh International Congress of Hygiene and Demography 10 : 7-12