A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics

A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics

by Nicholas Wright Gillham
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195143655

ISBN-13: 9780195143652

Pub. Date: 11/01/2001

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Few scientists have made lasting contributions to as many fields as Francis Galton. He was an important African explorer, travel writer, and geographer. He was the meteorologist who discovered the anticyclone, a pioneer in using fingerprints to identify individuals, the inventor of regression and correlation analysis in statistics, and the founder of the eugenics

Overview

Few scientists have made lasting contributions to as many fields as Francis Galton. He was an important African explorer, travel writer, and geographer. He was the meteorologist who discovered the anticyclone, a pioneer in using fingerprints to identify individuals, the inventor of regression and correlation analysis in statistics, and the founder of the eugenics movement. Now, Nicholas Gillham paints an engaging portrait of this Victorian polymath.
The book traces Galton's ancestry (he was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin and the cousin of Charles Darwin), upbringing, training as a medical apprentice, and experience as a Cambridge undergraduate. It recounts in colorful detail Galton's adventures as leader of his own expedition in Namibia. Darwin was always a strong influence on his cousin and a turning point in Galton's life was the publication of the Origin of Species. Thereafter, Galton devoted most of his life to human heredity, using then novel methods such as pedigree analysis and twin studies to argue that talent and character were inherited and that humans could be selectively bred to enhance these qualities. To this end, he founded the eugenics movement which rapidly gained momentum early in the last century. After Galton's death, however, eugenics took a more sinister path, as in the United States, where by 1913 sixteen states had involuntary sterilization laws, and in Germany, where the goal of racial purity was pushed to its horrific limit in the "final solution." Galton himself, Gillham writes, would have been appalled by the extremes to which eugenics was carried.
Here then is a vibrant biography of a remarkable scientist as well as a superb portrait of science in the Victorian era.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195143652
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
11/01/2001
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Prefaceix
Prologue Francis Galton in Perspective1
I ANTECEDENTS AND BEGINNINGS
1 An Enviable Pedigree13
2 Metamorphosis From Birth to Medical School23
3 A Poll Degree from Cambridge37
4 Drifting47
II GEOGRAPHY AND EXPLORATION
5 South Africa61
6 Making Peace with Jonker Afrikaner67
7 Expedition to Ovampoland79
8 Fame and Marriage93
9 Riding High with the Royal Geographical Society I
The Great Lakes of Africa109
10 Riding High with the Royal Geographical Society II
Stanley Faces Off with the Geographers123
11 Weather Maps and the Anticyclone140
III THE TRIUMPH OF THE PEDIGREE
12 HereditaryTalent and Character155
13 Gemmules, Rabbits, Germs, and Stirps173
14 Nature and Nurture187
15 Sweet Peas and Anthropometrics195
16 Probing the Mind215
17 Fingerprints231
18 The Birth ofBiometrics250
19 Galton's Disciples269
20 Evolution by Jumps286
21 The Mendelians Trump the Biometricians303
22 The Triumph of the Pedigree Eugenics324
Epilogue Out of Pandora's Box: The First International
Congress of Eugenics345
Notes359
Bibliography390
Index398

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