National types: the transatlantic publication and reception of Crania Americana (1839)
History of Science
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Poskett, J. (2015). National types: the transatlantic publication and reception of Crania Americana (1839). History of Science, 53 264-295. https://doi.org/10.1177/0073275315580955
Samuel George Morton’s Crania Americana (1839) is most often read as a foundational work for the ‘American school’ of nineteenth-century ethnography. In this article, I challenge such a reading by demonstrating how transatlantic connections shaped both the publication and the reception of Morton’s atlas. In this lavish folio volume, complete with over seventy lithographic plates, Morton divides man into five races on the basis of skull configuration. However, to date, there have been no histories which consider the relevance of Morton’s extensive correspondence with physicians, naturalists, and phrenologists in Europe. Furthermore, there have been no studies which consider how Morton managed the reception of Crania Americana across the Atlantic Ocean. This article resituates American ethnology within this transatlantic world, drawing on archival collections in both Britain and the United States. More broadly, it demonstrates how the history of the book can be developed as we move beyond national contexts.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0073275315580955
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/247288