Galton, Francis, 1822-1911

Variant names

Hide Profile

Eugenicist. Fellow of the Royal Society. Born in Birmingham, England, educated in Boulogne, Kenilworth and King Edward's School, Birmingham; trained in medicine at Birmingham General Hospital and Kings College London until 1840; B. A. Trinity College, Cambridge. A generous inheritance allowed him to devote his life to travel, and to the study of a succession of virtually unexplored fields: the weather; physical and mental characteristics in man and animals; the influence of heredity on them; heredity in twins; fingerprints and personal identification. His study of "those agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations, either physically or mentally" led him to invent the work "eugenics" to describe his work. He founded the Galton Laboratory of National Eugenics at University College London (later renamed Galton Laboratory, Department of Human Genetics and Biometry) to further his work.

From the description of Papers, 1826-1911. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79972879

Astronomer. Fellow of the Royal Society.

From the description of Papers, 1850-1902. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81675171

Francis Galton was the founder of the English eugenics movement and the science of biometrics.

From the description of Letters, 1870-1899. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122589313


From the description of Sir Francis Galton correspondence, 1875. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79450378

Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), born in Birmingham, England, was an early human geneticist and eugenicist. The term "eugenics" was coined by him in 1883. He laid the foundation for the science of biostatistics through his studies on the inheritance of mental traits. Galton, first cousin to Charles Darwin, was influenced by Darwin's Origin of the Species. He began to publish on heredity in 1865 and, in 1889, he published Natural Inheritance, a summary of his work on the subject. Galton was knighted in 1909 and received the Copley medal from the Royal Society in 1910.

Mrs. Maud Clark Gardiner was the wife of John Gardiner, the first professor of Biology at the University of Colorado. Both Mrs. Gardiner and her daughter Dorothy (the donor) are graduates of the University of Colorado. Dorothy Gardiner was the first baby ever to be fingerprinted. Her fingerprints are still housed at the Fingerprint Museum at Scotland Yard. Dorothy Gardiner authored The Golden Lady, The Great Betrayal, Lion in Wait, The Transatlantic Ghost, West of the River, and other works.

From the description of Sir Francis Galton correspondence (MS 81), 1894-1936 (bulk) 1894-1907. (Denver Public Library). WorldCat record id: 225210919

The polymath Francis Galton (1822-1911) led a privileged and adventurous life, lending his talents to the development of statistical inference, scientific meteorology, psychology, and becoming one of the first to apply the evolutionary theories of his cousin Charles Darwin to human populations, founding the new fields of eugenics and biometrics.

Born in Birmingham, England, on Feb. 16, 1822, Galton was still a boy when he was first gripped by a "passion for travel," touring eastern Europe and the Levant in the months before entering Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1840. At his parents' insistence -- and having already spent time studying at the General Hospital in Birmingham and at King's College, London -- Galton studied medicine at Cambridge. Yet medicine was not in his future. When his father died in 1844, the same year that he took a poll degree, Galton found himself liberated from the need to work, and almost immediately embarked upon a tour up the Nile as far as Khartoum and from there, to Syria. For five years, he dabbled in the sporting life, but after becoming thoroughly bored with leisure, he returned to travel. Approaching the Royal Geographic Society, Galton proposed leading an exploring expedition to Damaraland (present day Namibia), hoping to push from Walfish Bay inland to Lake Ngami, a lake which had been seen by Europeans only by David Livingstone. Galton failed in this attempt, but his account of that arduous journey, Tropical South Africa (London, 1853), established him as an important explorer and earned him the gold medal of the Royal Geographic Society in 1853, the gold medal of the French Geographical Society in 1854, and election to the Royal Society in 1856.

Despite having earned an enviable reputation as an explorer, Damaraland would be Galton's final expedition. Instead, he threw himself into a variety of scientific pursuits, and above all into quantitative inference. As an early experimental psychologist, he introduced the survey as a method for data collection, helped to demonstrate that different minds worked in different ways, promoted twin studies, and investigated the nature of memory and the senses. In meteorology, his work on atmospheric circulation (including coining the word "anticyclone") and his use of maps to show high pressure areas were both fundamental to the development of scientific weather forecasting. Although never as adept mathematically as he would have liked, Galton became a pioneer in the use of regression analysis during the 1870s and introduced the concept of statistical correlation in 1888. Using this approach, he helped to demonstrate that fingerprints were an index of personal identity, even persuading Scotland Yard to keep fingerprint records, and he stirred up a statistical controversy with a study that disproved the efficacy of prayer in healing. He also took on important administrative responsibilities: from 1868 to 1900 he served on the council of the Meteorological Office, and from 1863 to 1867 he was president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Galton's best known work, however, was inspired by his cousin. Within months of reading Darwin's Origin of Species, Galton became a zealous convert and almost immediately set out to give statistical heft to the study of differences in human abilities. Struck by the tendency of genius to run in families (including his own), he amassed data on the heritability of intelligence, collecting the genealogies and obituaries of dozens of eminent persons and spinning the results into a succession of books. Hereditary genius: an enquiry into its laws and consequences (1869) was followed by English men of science: their nature and nurture (1874), Natural inheritance (1889), Index to achievements of near kinsfolk of some of the Fellows of the Royal Society (1904), and Noteworthy Families (1906). In each of these, Galton argued that hereditary, not environment, was the key factor in explaining the distribution of intellectual (and other) talents in society. It was he who developed the catch phrase, "nature versus nurture," with the emphasis clearly on nature.

As early as 1865, Galton sought to turn his understanding of heredity actively to improve the human race, an idea he popularized in Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development (1883), the book in which he introduced the term eugenics. He intended this neologism to refer to the scientific effort to improve the human race through selective breeding of the best elements of society and discouragement of breeding of the worst. In his autobiography, Galton wrote that the aims of eugenics were simple and clear, and were rooted in biology.

Infirm during the last several years of his life, Galton died of acute bronchitis on Jan. 17, 1911. His wife Louisa Jane Butler, whom he married in August 1853, died in 1897, and he had no children. The bulk of his estate was left to the University College London to endow the laboratory of eugenics and to establish a chair in eugenics, of which the statistician Karl Pearson was the first tenant.

From the guide to the Francis Galton Collection, 1867-1909, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Galton, Francis, Sir, 1822-1911. Autograph letter signed Francis Galton to: "Dear Sir" April 28,1889. Wellesley College
creatorOf Galton, Francis, Sir, 1822-1911. Autograph letter signed : Westminster [London], to Mr. Vaux, 1856 June 19. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Scientists Collection, 1563-1973 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Alison, Archibald, 1757-1839,. Papers pertaining to Charles Darwin and evolution, 1771-1821. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn William Bateson: Scientific Correspondence and Papers, 19th - 20th century Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
creatorOf Galton, Francis, Sir, 1822-1911. Autograph letter signed : London, to an unidentified woman, 1871 Mar. 20. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Sir James Paget correspondence, 1784-1932, 1784-1932 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Bowditch, H. P. (Henry Pickering), 1840-1911. Papers of Henry Bowditch, 1806-1957 (inclusive), 1858-1910 (bulk). Harvard University, Medical School, Countway Library
creatorOf Alison, Archibald, 1757-1839. Papers pertaining to Charles Darwin and evolution [manuscript], 1771-1921. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Elsie Clews Parsons papers, 1880-1980 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Francis Galton Collection, 1867-1909 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Library. Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection. 1668-1983. American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Galton, Francis, 1822-1911. Letters. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
creatorOf Hayward, A. (Abraham), 1801-1884. Abraham Hayward correspondence files : 1063 items, 1790-1889 New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Galton, Francis, 1822-1911. Papers, 1826-1911. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Galton, Francis, 1822-1911. Post card [18]98 Feb. 7, South Kensington [London to] Mrs. Procter, Kensington [London] / Francis Galton. Texas Tech University Libraries, Academic Library
referencedIn Lyell, Charles, Sir, 1797-1875. Papers, 1806-1874. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Elizabeth Anne Wheler: Reminiscences of my early life, 1905-1906 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
referencedIn Hesketh Pearson Papers TXRC03-A16., 1789-2001 (bulk 1921-1964) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Galton, Francis, 1822-1911. Papers, 1850-1902. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Browne, Maurice, 1881-1955. Morley's First Sketch of English Literature papers, 1909 and 1936. University of Michigan
referencedIn John Edward Gray papers, 1783-1884, 1783-1884 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Letters of scientists, 1655-1973. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882. Archive of the Darwin Papers Editorial Project, 1821-1882. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Gray, John Edward, 1800-1875. Papers, 1783-1884. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Bateson, William, 1861-1926. Papers, ca. 1875-1924. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Sir Charles Lyell papers, 1806-1874, 1806-1874 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn James, William, 1842-1910. Papers, 1803-1941 (bulk: 1862-1910) Houghton Library
referencedIn Sir Francis Galton Correspondence (MS 81), 1894-1936, 1894-1907 University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries. Special Collections Dept.
creatorOf Galton, Francis, 1822-1911. Sir Francis Galton correspondence, 1875. Library of Congress
referencedIn Browne, William Hand, 1828-1912. William Hand Browne collection, 1842-1973. Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library
creatorOf Langley, S. P. (Samuel Pierpont), 1834-1906. S.P. Langley papers, 1866-1926. Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Houghton Library printed book provenance file, E-K. Houghton Library
creatorOf Galton, Francis, 1822-1911. Sir Francis Galton correspondence (MS 81), 1894-1936 (bulk) 1894-1907. University of Colorado, Boulder
referencedIn Papers of Sir Francis Galton, 19th century Bodleian Library, Oxford
referencedIn Henry Adams autograph album, 1833-1939. Houghton Library
referencedIn William Bateson papers, ca. 1875-1924, Circa 1875-1924 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Galton, Francis, 1822-1911. Letters, 1870-1899. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Abraham Hayward correspondence files : 1063 items, 1790-1889 The New York Public Library. Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle.
referencedIn Autograph collection, 1816-1917, 1816-1917 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Galton, Francis, Sir, 1822-1911. Autograph letter signed : London, to Professor L. Morgan, 1897 Feb. 5. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Pearson, Hesketh, 1887-1964. Hesketh Pearson Papers, 1789-2001 (bulk 1921-1964). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIf, 1866-1886 American Philosophical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, Henry, 1838-1918 person
associatedWith Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873 person
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820 person
associatedWith Bateson, William, 1861-1926. person
associatedWith Bernstorff, Anna, Countess person
associatedWith Bowditch, H. P. (Henry Pickering), 1840-1911. person
associatedWith Browne, Maurice, 1881-1955. person
associatedWith Browne, William Hand, 1828-1912. person
associatedWith Carnarvon, Evelyn Stanhope Herbert, Countess of, 1834-1875 person
associatedWith Clarke, Hyde, 1815-1895. person
associatedWith Cooper, Thomas, 1759-1839 person
associatedWith Coues, Elliott, 1842-1899 person
associatedWith Crowe, Eyre, 1824-1910 person
associatedWith Cuvier, Georges, Baron, 1769-1832 person
associatedWith Darlington, William, 1782-1863 person
associatedWith Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882. person
associatedWith Dibner, Bern, person
associatedWith Edison, Thomas A., (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Elizabeth Anne Wheler person
associatedWith Evans, John, Sir, 1823-1908. person
associatedWith Everett, Edward, 1794-1865 person
associatedWith Fitch, John person
associatedWith Frere, Henry Bartle Edward, 1815-1884 person
associatedWith Gardiner, Dorothy, 1894-1979. person
correspondedWith Gardiner, Maud Clark person
associatedWith Genth, F. A., (Frederick Augustus), 1820-1893 person
associatedWith Gray, Asa, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith Gray, John Edward, 1800-1875. person
associatedWith Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872 person
associatedWith Harding, Warren G. person
associatedWith Hayward, A. (Abraham), 1801-1884. person
associatedWith Houghton Library. corporateBody
correspondedWith James, William, 1842-1910 person
associatedWith Jebb, Henry Gladwyn person
associatedWith Langley, S. P. (Samuel Pierpont), 1834-1906. person
associatedWith Lyell, Charles, Sir, 1797-1875. person
associatedWith Miller, W. J. C. (William John Clarke) person
associatedWith Minto, Emma Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, Countess of, d. 1882 person
associatedWith Moore, E. M. person
associatedWith Moore, E. M., collector. person
associatedWith Morgan, L., Professor, person
associatedWith Newcomb, Simon person
associatedWith Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727 person
associatedWith Orsay, Alfred Guillaume Gabriel, comte d', 1801-1852 person
associatedWith Paget, James, Sir, 1814-1899. person
associatedWith Parsons, Elsie Worthington Clews, 1875-1941 person
associatedWith Pearson, Hesketh, 1887-1964 person
associatedWith Poinsett, Joel Roberts, 1779-1851 person
associatedWith Procter, Annie. person
associatedWith Proctor, Annie person
associatedWith Proctor, Mrs. person
correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Ramaley, Francis, 1870-1942. person
associatedWith Ravenstein, Ernest, 1834-1913. person
associatedWith Ray, Gordon Norton, 1915- person
associatedWith Rideing, William H. (William Henry), 1853-1918. person
associatedWith Rittenhouse, David, 1732-1796 person
associatedWith Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813 person
associatedWith Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, 1793-1864 person
associatedWith Seybert, Adam, 1773-1825 person
correspondedWith Sir Francis Galton person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Stenhouse, John, 1809-1880. person
associatedWith Stevens, Henry person
associatedWith Strachey, Richard, Sir, 1817-1908. person
associatedWith Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872 person
associatedWith Thomson, Charles, 1729-1824 person
associatedWith University of Colorado Libraries. Special Collections Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Vaux, Mr, person
associatedWith Waterton, Charles, 1782-1865 person
associatedWith Wayne, Anthony person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Astronomical observations
Heredity (Sociology)
Psychometry (Parapsychology)


Birth 1822-02-16

Death 1911-01-17





Ark ID: w68p66bf

SNAC ID: 63426428