This being the 100th anniversary of the death of Francis Galton (1822 – 1911), and having discovered that UCL‘s Galton Collection is not currently open to the public (due to staffing & relocation issues), I’ve delved into my photo album to bring you some pictures from my own visit to the archive a few years ago.
Francis Galton was an explorer, polymath, inventor, statistician, and a controversial scientist, primarily for his championing of eugenics.
One definition of eugenics, which has largely been discredited in its original form, is:
The study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).
Galton’s lesser-known achievements include the classification of fingerprints, inventing the dog whistle, the statistical methods of correlation and regression, psychometrics, creating the first weather map, and pioneering the use of surveys and questionnaires.
He also ranked the attractiveness of women across the country, surreptitiously rating their looks by pricking a piece of paper in his trouser pocket as he wandered the streets, and thereby creating a “beauty map”.
He was an enthusiastic traveller in his early life, journeying through Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and he recorded his adventures in the Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa and The Art of Travel.
As well as his models and instruments, the Galton Archive includes over 100 boxes of his papers and correspondence, and is in the process of being digitized.
Watch the mini-lecture below for more of an insight into Francis Galton’s work and ideas.
UCL has two current exhibits that touch on Francis Galton’s work, which contain items from the above collection:
Typecast: Flinders Petrie and Francis Galton - Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, 29 March – 22 December 2011.
UCL’s Galton Inaugural Lecture, ‘Neurological disease: Nature and Nurture’, is coming up on October 19, featuring guest speaker Nicholas Wood, the current Galton Professor of Genetics at the Institute of Neurology.
For more upcoming Francis Galton events, click here.
You can also visit Galton’s former home at 42 Rutland Gate, Westminster, which has a commemorative plaque.
And for the more intrepid among you, Francis Galton is buried in Claverdon churchyard, with an epitaph that was almost indecipherable when we visited two years ago. Memorials to him and other Galtons can be found inside the church.
Photos by Sven Klinge
(please credit photographer & website when using these photos)
Francis Galton: The man who drew up the ‘ugly map’ of Britain, BBC News Online
Extreme Measures: The Dark Visions and Bright Ideas of Francis Galton by Martin Brookes
A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics by Nicholas Wright Gillham
The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton by Karl Pearson
Francis Galton: Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry by Michael Bulmer
The Art of Travel by Francis Galton
Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into its Laws and Consequences by Francis Galton
Natural Inheritance by Francis Galton