It is ironic that anthropology and its subfields (physical, cultural, and linguistic anthropology) have been involved in both the creation and the demise of the concept of race. --Yolanda Moses ( 1997), President of the City College of New York
IT IS DIFFICULT today to understand the obsession of nineteenth-century anthropologists with simple measurements taken on the human skull. In the 1840s, Samuel Morton relied almost exclusively on cranial capacity as an indication of human intelligence. Pre-Civil War Americans believed that Morton had scientifically proved that Caucasians had bigger brains (and hence were more intelligent) than American Indians. Because the African skulls in Morton's collection had the smallest brains of all, they were judged to be the least intelligent of the human races.
Nineteenth-century skull science also relied on a second measurement, head form, to trace the origins and distribution of peoples. Known more formally as the "cephalic index," head form is simply the ratio of maximum skull