Addams Signature

Sample Documents: Jane Addams’s Copy of her 1876 Phrenological Reading

Jane Addams’s Copy of Her 1876 Phrenological Reading

When the Addams family visited Philadelphia during the summer of 1876, Anna Haldeman Addams took Jane Addams and George Haldeman with her to see John L. Capen,1 M.D., for a phrenological consultation.  The reading of Jane Addams's skull that Capen did took place on at least two different occasions, 28 and 30 July 1876.  George Haldeman and Jane Addams's interest in phrenology continued after their return to Cedarville.  They formed The Capenic Phrenological Society of the Northwest, with George as president and Jane as secretary.

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Philadelphia, Pa.

The Contents of Jane Addams's head, as examined by John L. Capen Phrenologist, July 28. 1876

Age--15 years, 8 months, 22 days

Size of head 1/4 to 1/2 inch larger than average adults.  Mental powers greater than physical.  With care will enjoy a good degree of health through out her life.  Vital power not great; but still an element of toughness in her that will endure  a good deal.  Rather an evenness of temperament but shows marked traits of character.  Has strength of feeling and energy.  Large positiveness if she thinks a thing is true, she thinks it with

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all her might.  Great sensativeness and timidity, lack of self esteem consequently confidence in herself.  Social, but not fond of general society, fond of her own select society and circle of friends and home folks.  Intellect beyond average, inclined to be sober, serious and earnest.  Strong will and inclined to be very obsanate.  As a business women would be a good bookkeeper, financeir and arithmetician but a lack of sharpness as in making bargains or trading.  Strong in her likes and dislikes, very affectionate, thinks a great deal of her friends and will always stand by them.

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Womanly and matronly.  True, steady and uniform, self sacrificing until she finds she is imposed upon then would become very indignant.  Strong reasoning powers.  Gratitude large; consciencousness great.  Form medium, very large firmness.  Memory average, large originality dislikes to imitate others, or memorize, prefer to be original.  Inclined to be inventive especially of things of a mechanical nature.  Dislikes to be over persuaded.  She would make her mark in drawing designs, although her ideas of size and from are to poor to become a good copyist.  Not enthusiastic, in any project will become slowly interested and by reason, but when

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interested will be zealous and presevearing and loath to abond it.  Her mind will always become interested before she takes hold with her hands.  Large2 veneration and great preseverance.  Prudent and careful.  Moral faculties very much larger than religious.  Inclined to be skeptical, as for intance, if some one was trying to make her believe a thing against her principle of right and wrong and even say that the Lord said so, she would begin to doubt if the Lord ever did say such a thing wether it was'ent man that said it.  She would never be a proselyte, not sectarian, thinks ever one has the right to believe what they please.  Will do any thing from principle, believe nothing without

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a good reason.  Melody poor, but good harmony, would hardly come up to the average through the first courses of music but do better afterward.  Large imagination but under good control, if she builds castles in the air always has some good foundation for them.  She will be a good chess player, in philosophy and mathematics very good; as a linguist in foreigh languagues would hardly come up to the average.  If subject to mortifications, great disapointment or anxiety in the next five years would be apt to stunt the growth of her mind and injure its strength; inclining then to become meloncoly.

Hope large, if it has any foundation.  Natural disposition cheerful.

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At school will not be showy or brilliant on account of her lack of confidence in herself, being sensitive and easily mortified, also not being able to menorize so easily as others; but will be steady and presevering, sticking to a thing when the majority give it up, and will come out near the head at last.

Philadephia Penna.

922 Chestnut Street.


P.S.  July 30.


Prespective faculties fair but not so large as reflective.  Should cultivate her talent for drawing and music.

HD authored by John L. Capen and copied by Jane Addams.  University of Illinois, Chicago, Jane Addams Memorial Collection, Detzer.  JAPM, 28:736-41; JAP, 1:143-45.

1.  Dr. John L. Capen had been trained in the New York office of the Fowler family, primary purveyors of phrenology in America.  By the mid-1850s, with phrenology at the height of its popularity nation-wide, the Fowlers opened branches of their enterprise in Boston and Philadelphia. Two years after the Philadelphia branch opened in 1853, at 231 Arch Street, its management was taken over by John L. Capen.  He was still in charge of the Phrenological Museum, Book Store & Office located at 722 Chestnut Street when the Addams family visited during the Centennial year.


2.  The word “Large” has been crossed out.