Jessie A. Fowler was a celebrated practitioner of phrenology, the belief that the observation of bumps and indentations of the skull was indicative of mental faculties and personal characteristics. Today, phrenology ("head reading”) is commonly viewed as the outmoded theories of eccentrics and quacks. But in the nineteenth century its influence was colossal at all levels of society, more than its later competitors, such as psychoanalysis. As vice president of the American Institute of Phrenology, Ms. Fowler was a trusted source for determining the “true nature” of people, from the president of the United States to the most infamous murderers. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|September 18, 1898||Jessie Fowler writes article describing the world’s races in terms of phrenology.|
|October 22, 1903||Fowler is featured in a column in the Evening World on predicting the future using phrenology.|
|January 1, 1905||Fowler begins doing profiles of important political figures and murderers, such as President Theodore Roosevelt.|
|July 20, 1908||A Murderer is compared to Belle Gunness, the notorious serial murderer.|
|March 22, 1916||Jessie Fowler does a study of Pancho Villa’s head.|
|August 13, 1922||The future of a child born to two criminals is determined.|