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Anthropometric Committee record cards, 1884 - 1909

Reference Code: GBR/0279/CPS 12/1

Scope and Contents

Approximately 9,000 printed cards, one per subject, filled in by hand with the following information: reference number; name; college; birthplace; date of birth; ‘Origin’ (ie ‘N. or S. England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland &c’); date of observations; details of eyes, eyesight, strength of pull, strength of squeeze, breathing power, head dimensions, height, weight, and span of arms. The format of the cards changed, circa 1897, to include extra information on eyes, hair, ears, facial measurements and features, and colour sense; also place of origin of both father and mother.
As various researchers had used the cards before this catalogue was compiled, it is not possible to ascertain whether the cards were originally ordered alphabetically, by reference number, chronologically or in some other fashion. However, as many were found mostly in annual bundles, they have been arranged broadly chronologically. Most of the information is written in pencil but appears to be relatively clear.
Historical note: the Cambridge Anthropometric Committee began measuring subjects in 1884 using apparatus designed by Sir Francis Galton. Early cards bear the printed heading ‘Cambridge Union Society’: this is presumably where measurements took place for the first few years. In 1886 the instruments were transferred to the care of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. Measurements then began of readers using the Society’s Library and continued into the early years of the 20th century. The cards were sent on loan to Professor Sir Karl Pearson at University College, London in 1924 for research purposes: they were returned to the Cambridge Philosophical Society in 1962.


  • Creation: 1884 - 1909



12 archive box(es) (12 boxes) : paper

Language of Materials


Related Materials

See CPS 2/1/6 (Council minutes 1885-1906) for minutes and letters concerning the transfer to the Society of the functions and instruments of the Cambridge Anthropometirc Committee, 1886, in particular p.11, a letter from Oscar Browning of King's College to R T Glazebrook concerning the proposed transfer, 26 January 1886 (agreed at the meeting of 1 February 1886).


Cambridge Philosophical Society

Finding aid date

2015-05-17 15:45:33+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge Philosophical Society Repository

CPS Archivist, Joan Bullock-Anderson
c/o Sedgwick Museum Archives, A G Brighton Building
Madingley Rise
Cambridge CB3 0UD