Fowler, Orson Squire
- Madeleine B. Stern
Fowler, Orson Squire (11 October 1809–18 August 1887), phrenologist and publisher, was born in Cohocton, Steuben County, New York, the son of Horace Fowler, a farmer, and Martha Howe. He was graduated from Amherst College in 1834 and in 1835 married Eliza Brevoort Chevalier, a widow, by whom he had two children. Though educated for the ministry, he devoted himself to phrenology, the “science” of the mind that was formulated by Franz Joseph Gall and introduced to the United States by Johann Gaspar Spurzheim. Phrenology postulated that, because the brain was the organ of the mind and shaped the skull, there was an observable concomitance between the mind (talents, disposition, character) and the shape of the head. In an analysis, a phrenologist examined the latter to determine the former. Immediately after graduation Fowler started his professional career as itinerant practical phrenologist in New England. Using charts and a phrenological bust, he lectured on phrenology and analyzed heads, sizing “organs” or “faculties” such as amativeness, combativeness, firmness, and ideality to determine character. It was believed that each faculty manifested itself through its own cerebral organ, the size of which indicated its functional power. The size of the organ, it was believed, could be increased or decreased by exercise....