Important acquisitions

[Collection of 42 pamphlets etc]

Author Beddoe, John
Title [Collection of 42 pamphlets etc]
Imprint [Various]
Date of Publication c. 1859-1900
Language English
Notes John Beddoe (1826-1911) was born in Worcestershire but studied medicine at Edinburgh University, becoming house physician at Edinburgh Royal Infimary. He developed a keen, not to say obsessive, interest in the different ethnic or racial groups of Europe. His studies of hair and eye colour, height and physique, are among the early works of the science of anthropology. More disturbingly, his ethnological writings prepare the way for the theories of racial separation and extreme nationalism that disfigured the early twentieth century. This is a collection of some 43 pamphlets and offprints in two volumes, many inscribed by the author, perhaps to a family member or close friend. Among these are some rare provincial Scottish and English imprints, such as 'Anthropological history of Europe', Paisley, 1893. Beddoe spent much of his life in the English west country, and there are some interesting examples of Bristol printing. Many of the works have a distinct Scottish slant. Notably, his publication 'On the stature and bulk of man' has tables with details of Scottish villagers, measured with and without shoes, and weighed with and without clothes. Amusingly, Beddoe spends some time complaining that people would not always cooperate with his researches. In Scotland, the east coast fishermen proved 'extremely stubborn and suspicious', and a Glasgow manufacturer told him it was a 'waste of workmen's time'. These pamphlets fit in well with existing collections such as the Combe collection of phrenological writings. Although much of Beddoe's data is of great interest, one feels unhappy at the direction of his arguments. 'On the physical characteristics of the Jewish race' (1869) is not actually coloured by any anti-Semitic remarks, but how much did it contribute to the rise of racist pseudo-science sixty years later? This is, perhaps, the darker side of Edinburgh's contribution to science and medicine.
Shelfmark AB.2.206.010(1-43)
Acquired on 21/11/03
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