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PROFESSOR BOAS' NEW THEORY OF THE FORM OF
THE HEAD— A CRITICAL CONTRIBUTION
TO SCHOOL ANTHROPOLOGY
By PAUL R. RADOSAVLJEVICH
LAST year a government document was published by the
Immigration Commission in which an attempt was made to
show that New York environment is bringing about " funda-
mental " changes in the physical type of immigrants. The author of
this document is Professor Franz Boas 1 (i) of Columbia University.
Under his direction the heads of a large number of New York
immigrants have recently been measured. These measurements
include a study of: (i) the stature; (2) weight; (3) general physio-
logical development of the individual; (4) two head measurements
(length and width) and the corresponding cephalic index, indicating
"the form of head"; (5) width of face; (6) color of hair, eyes, and
skin. A majority of the individuals measured were school children.
The results of this investigation aroused much popular interest
and considerable discussion in the daily press, and many popular
magazines and semi-scientific journals repeated uncritically the
several " unexpected" conclusions. It was widely believed that
the results had dealt a death blow to the old theories regarding
the stability of the form of the head, because they seemed to show
that the form of the head is not a permanent characteristic of
race as anthropologists had assumed; that the American environ-
ment rapidly affects the form of the head; that Jews are grow-
ing long-headed, and Sicilians short-headed, i. e., that the cephalic
index of the Jews is decreasing and that of the Sicilians increasing.
More especially on page 39 Boas concluded that
"on the whole, there has been a decrease in length of head,. width of head, and
width of face since the middle of the past century. ... A feature that is particu-
1 Numbers in parenthesis after authors' names or quotations refer to the numbers
in the Bibliography at the end of this paper.
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 395
larly noticeable is the general drop of all the absolute measurements after the year
1894. An attempt to combine all the material, adult and children, for these
years, brings out the sudden drop after 1893 even more clearly; and a similar
phenomenon is repeated between the years 1907 and 1909. For this reason I am
inclined to believe that the type of immigrants is directly affected by financial
In another place (p. 28) Boas expresses the same conclusions in
the following words :
"The type of immigrants changes from year to year, owing to a selection
which is dependent upon the economic conditions of our country. This is shown
by the fact that after the panic of 1893 a sudden decrease in the general develop-
ment of immigrants may be observed, which persisted for several years. A similar
change seems to have taken place after the panic of 1907."
How the "type" of immigrants was affected after the panic
of 1893 is shown in Table III (p. 28) referring to the general
deterioration in stature, length and width of head, width of face,
and cephalic index (see Table VI of this study). According to these
figures the panic of 1893 decreased stature, length and width of
head, and width of face, but increased the cephalic index.
Does this increase and do these decreases affect the physical
type of immigrants at all? Are the observed differences significant,
and if so, are they due to the American environment and financial
panics? Is there any scientific explanation of "far-reaching"
changes in this new theory? Does it really mean a discovery ia
anthropological science that is of "fundamental" importance?
Before we enter into this large subject it is necessary to remind
the reader of the older notions concerning the form of head, because
it will help us in localizing various very important difficulties in-
volved in the problem, and throw a new light on Boas' material
and his explanation of it. Boas himself admits frankly that his
"surprising and unexpected" results require "the most thorough-
going criticism before being accepted as definitely established."
We also believe that a healthy criticism will be beneficial.
II. Historical: On the Form of the Head
Until the appearance of this new theory, the historical answers
to the question, "Does the form of the head change ?" may be
summarized in the following theories :
396 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., 13. 1911
1. The Mechanical-functional Theory
According to this theory the shape of the head may be caused
by the mechanical influences during the postnatal life. Thus
the head-form may be modified individually by the kind of cradle
in which baby sleeps. In his Descent of Man, Darwin says
"habitual spasm of the muscles, and a cicatrix from a severe burn, have per-
manently modified the facial bones. In young persons whose heads have become
fixed either sidewise or backward, owing to disease, one of two eyes has changed
its position, and the shape of skull has been altered apparently by the pressure
of the brain in a new direction. "(2)
He quotes Jarrold's Anthropologic, (1880, pp. 11 5-6) in which are
given the cases of modification of the skulls from the head being
fixed in an unnatural position. Darwin says that Jarrold believed
"that in certain trades, such as that of a shoemaker, where the head is habitu-
ally held forward, the forehead becomes more rounded and prominent." (2)
In another place Darwin says that the skulls of many of our im-
proved and domesticated species of animals have varied perceptibly;
and he cites in addition pigs, diverse species of fowls, and rabbits.
From his own observations on domestic rabbits he inferred that
some kinds of skulls
"have become very much larger than in the wild animal, while others have
retained nearly the same size, but in both cases the brain has been much reduced
relatively to the size of the body. Now I was at first much surprised on finding
that in all these rabbits the skull had become elongated or dolichocephalic; for
instance, of two skulls of nearly equal breadth, the one from a large domestic
kind, the former was 3.15 and the latter 4.3 inches in length.' '(3)
He also thinks that the tall men may be compared with the
larger and longer-bodied rabbits, all of which have elongated skulls,
or are dolichocephalic (2). And about fifty years ago, a German
anthropologist, Welcker (4), found that short men more frequently
have rounded heads and tall men elongated ones.
The mechanical-functional theory has been supported in quite
recent times by a Stockholm anthropologist, Nystrom (5), who
believes that the form of head may change under the influence
of diet. The osteologist Holden (6) claims that different habits
develop different muscles, and that these muscles give rise to
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 397
modifications in the form of the bones as well as the bodily
configuration. In short, function makes structure. He contrasts
the skulls of the Carnivora with those of the Ungulata (or hoofed
animals). His examples are the tiger and deer. He says:
"The skull of the tiger is in perfect adaptation to his enormous temporal muscle.
It has a high median ridge, to which the muscles are attached, great arches of
the zygoma, under which they pass, and broad and lofty coronoid processes, into
which they are inserted. But his masseters are comparatively small, therefore
the zygomata and the angles of the jaw are not specially strong. Now, the sole
action of this temporal muscle is to clench the teeth together as on a hinge; so
we find that his jaw articulation is hinge like, and allows no other motion. This
mechanism is admirably fitted for cutting purposes, but is quite unfit for grinding;
so his teeth are cutters. He has no grinders. Exactly the converse of all is
true of the deer: his temporals are small; he has no median ridge, the passage
under the zygoma is small, and his coronoid process is delicate and scarcely
deserves notice. On the other hand, his masseters and pterygoid plates are
greatly expanded, the angles of the jaw massive and extensive. The masseters
acting with the internal pterygoids cause the grinding action; so here the articula-
tion of the jaw is nearly flat, allowing of a free grinding movement; and in ac-
cordance with this, we find the teeth are flattened on the surface, and good
grinders. It will be seen how clearly this conformation is in keeping with the
habits and nature of each animal "(6).
And the slight differences between opposite sides of the same
skull is explained by Holden on the basis of the law of Cuvier (7) :
''That an invariable co-relation exists not only between the different parts of
an animal's body, but likewise between the parts of his body and his mode of life."
Holden says that
"the posterior condyloid foramen of one side may be wanting, the mastoid process
of one side may be larger than that of the other, or the digastric fossae may be
of unequal size; one nasal passage may be larger than the other; the lateral sinus
may be much deeper on the one side than on the other, or there may be a middle
clinoid process on one side only. Asymmetry may occur in men highly gifted
as in the celebrated French anatomist Bichat. This is no more than one might
expect, seeing the difference often existing between features of the two sides of
the same face. Such want of symmetry is greatly exaggerated in many of the
lower animals, as may be seen in the Cetacea, in the head of the great sperm-whale,
or in that of the narwhal. ... But the most striking example of asymmetry
is seen in those of flat-fish which lie usually on their left sides, viz., soles and
plaice. . . . For in them both eyes are on the right or upper side of the skull,
and one orbit only is completed, the eyes being directed away from the ground
on which they lie. The teeth are chiefly developed on the left side of their jaws —
398 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., 13. 191 1
away from the side on which their eyes are — that is, on the white side. It is
interesting to note that in those fish, when very young, the skulls are symmetrical.
When the turbot is just hatched, it has an eye on each side of the head, and it
is only by subsequent development that the asymmetry occurs. The turbot,
unlike the sole and plaice, lies on its right side" (6).
Holden says, further, that the
"great and heavy skull of the crocodile contains large nasal passages and air-
cavities which float it, so that its body can lie under the water while its eyes and
nostrils alone appear just above the surface" (6).
In regard to the fact that some human heads are long, some
broad, and others round, Holden claims that it is due to "the vary-
ing extent of growth of bone either in the transverse or the longi-
tudinal sutures," or to " the early union of one or other of them."
So in the case where the parietal bones unite very early,
"the skull was unable to accommodate the growing by increasing in breadth,
and therefore, could only increase in length by growing at the fronto-parietal
and the occipito-parietal sutures, thu» giving rise to these extraordinary long
Holden goes so far as to claim that " the history of the animal is
always written on its bones," and that " low degraded types have
skeletons which can not be mistaken, while the healthy, intelligent,
and upright carry their characters in their skeletons as much as
they do in their faces."
Miiller (8) claims that there is a close relation between the form
of head and the mechanismus of birth. He gives many illustrative
examples from his own observations. Gorke (9), Papillault (10),
Haeckel (11), and others studied these mechanical influences in the
light of functional shaping of skulls, based on the ontogeny and
phylogeny of the human skull. In more recent times R. C. Osburn
(12) studied the effects of the shape of skulls on the teeth of man.
All these factors show the great complexity of the problem. (See
especially Hrdlicka, Eskimos, effects of temporal muscles on form
of jaws and head.)
2. The Hereditary Theory
This theory is one of the oldest. But it has at least the following
a. The First Form of the Hereditary Theory. — According to this
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 399
theory the shape of head is not changed; it is one of the clearest of
all permanent hereditary differences; it is relatively uninfluenced
by climate, age, food, locality, and exercise. This theory is in one
form or another advanced by Myers (13), Spitzka (14), Mobius (15),
Rieger (16), G. Stanley Hall (17), Zupanchich (18), and other
craniologists, archeologists, and so-called "anthropo-sociologists"
So, for example, Myers found that the chief head measurements
show approximately the same variability in the " prehistoric' '
people of Upper Egypt as in the modern population of the same
region. A pupil of Prof. Martin (former director of the Anthro-
pological Laboratory of the University of Zurich), Oetteking (20),
came to the conclusion that the influence of Bushmen, Negroes,
Libyans, and Hamito-Semites upon the Egyptian skulls can not yet
be given exact craniometric expression. Keith (21), in his study of
the remains of an ancient Briton, the Galley Hill man, was " struck* '
with the modernity of his form of skull, i. e., the extreme length and
extreme narrowness of his head, which is the "national" charac-
teristic of modern Englishmen. Similar results are reached by a
Croatian anthropologist, Gorjanovich (22). We might also mention
the fact that the form of skull of a Scandinavian of the neolithic time
is very similar to that of the modern Scandinavian. There are
other cases of this kind.
From both Myers' and Keith's investigations one is led to con-
clude that age alone does not produce in a people increased hetero-
geneity. Keith says that the history of man in England does not
begin some 5,000 years ago with an invasion of Celt or of Saxon, but
at a period of which 5,000 years is but a small fraction. This theory
has recently been advanced also by a Slovenian anthropologist,
Zupanchich, in his lecture given last year at the University of
Belgrade (Serbia) (23).
In short, the theory that the shape of the head is stable, hered-
itary and not fortuitous is the first form of the hereditary theory.
b. The Second Form of the Hereditary Theory. — This form of the
hereditary theory holds that the shape of the head is inherited, but
that it does not assume its final shape until after birth, and that it
400 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., 13, 191 1
does not depend on the mixed parental value of the cephalic index.
O. Ranke (24), in his study of the form of the head of 4,607 German
children (the age ranging from a new-born infant to a child of 15),
concludes that the form of the head reaches its definite form rela-
tively early, at seven, or even at six years of age. Sir W. Hamilton
also says that in man the encephalos reaches its full size at about
seven years of age (25). Vosilyev (26), who studied 936 boys and
264 girls between the ages of 7 and 16 years, belonging to the dis-
trict of Szerpuchov, in the Government of Moscow, found that the
form of head does not finally shape itself until after the sixteenth
year. Pfitzner (27), who studied 3,660 cases in Elsace, also found
that, apart from sex and age, the cephalic index seems to be the only
absolutely fixed character for the determination and recognition of
Boas (28) in another study, in 48 families of eastern Jews,
measured by Fishberg, states that one half of the children resembled
the father in regard to the shape of head and the other half the
mother. But the results of O. Ranke (29), based on head measure-
ments of children of the same parents (51 families) do not sub-
stantiate Boas' conclusions. Ranke found a very striking re-
semblance in the form of head of all children of the same parents,
regardless of the fact that the brothers and sisters were of different
ages (ranging in age from 3 to 14 years), with two or three exceptions.
Ranke's results agree with those of Thorndike (29a) who found that
35 pairs of twins of New York City showed a striking resemblance
in cephalic index. Thorndike measured 50 pairs of twins from 9 to
15 years old; 58.5 per cent, of these school children showed brachy-
cephaly, 37.1 per cent, mesocephaly, and 4.3 per cent, dolicho-
Gray and Tocher (30) also found very little difference in the
cephalic index of the racial elements of 14,561 pupils in east
Aberdeenshire, England. Binet (31) in France, Tscherowskovsky
(32) and Viasemsky (33) in Russia, and many others, came to almost
the same conclusion (34). Matiegka (35), studying some 7,000
boys in the public schools of Prague, from 5% to 14 years of age,
found throughout those ages the same national, brachycephalic
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 401
type of the head. The measurements by two pupils of professors
Meumann and Martin, Engelsperger and Ziegler (36), of 238 boys
and 238 girls of the entering classes (average ages 6 years and 4.5
months) in the schools of Munich, show that the bulk of these
pupils had the national form of the head — 93.5 per cent, being
brachycephalic and only 6.5 per cent, mesocephalic (not a single
case of dolichocephaly). Schliz (37), studying 962 school children
(from 12 to 14 years of age) in Heilborn, also found that the large
majority of these children represent the brachycephalic type of head-
form. The same is found by a pupil of Professor Martin, Teumin
(38), who measured 100 female university students (mostly of Jewish
race) in the Anthropological Laboratory of Zurich University The
bulk of these students were brachycephalic — 74 per cent.
Browne (39), who measured the students of Trinity College
(from 1891 to 1898), found an average cephalic index of 72.5, which
is the national type of the head of Englishmen. The same result
was found by Venn (40), who measured 1000 students of Cambridge
University (England). The majority of these students were
mesocephalic — 55.2 per cent.
In addition to these we may mention the study of a Polish
author, Kraitschek (41), based on the measurements of 173 Jewish
students of the State Gymnasium in Landskron (Galicia, Austria).
He found not a single dolichocephalic student; only three were
mesocephalic and the rest, 170 in number, were of a brachycephalic
type (98 per cent.).
All these and many other studies show clearly that the youth
represent the same type of head as the race to which they belong,
with slight differences in degree, of course. This is the second
form of the hereditary theory.
c. The Third Form of the Hereditary Theory. — This form of the
hereditary theory claims that the shape of head (or rather skull) is
inherited, but " heredity' ' means not absolute stability. Hrdlicka
(42), believes that heredity is subject to incidental irregularities as
well as to gradual modifications. He thinks that the alterations in
"need not be general or of prime importance, and may require for their d's-
402 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST |n. s., 13, 191 1
covery detailed study and extended comparisons; but in the case of an indi-
vidual from the earlier stages of the geological period immediately preceding the
recent one they should as a rule be pronounced enough to be easily apprehended."
Hrdlicka is very careful in using generalizations. He says:
"In the case of single features or with scanty material, all far-reaching con-
clusions must be avoided, for in such cases we can not be certain that we are
outside of the territory of semipathological occurrences, and features of reversion,
degeneration, or purely accidental variation limited to individuals or small
numbers of persons."
HrdliCka's scientific sanity and exactness in measuring crania
might be compared with the craniological work of Klaatsch (43),
Kollmann (44), Martin (45), and other European experts in
experimental physical anthropology.
3. The Geographical-local Theory
This theory is not unlike the preceding. It claims that the
shape of the head is distributed more according to geographical
localities than to nationalities. So, for example, the people of the
Alps, no matter what language they may speak, show considerable
similarities in type. Deniker (46), who analyzed and utilized all
that has been published in different languages on the cephalometry
and craniometry of European peoples (the total number of indices
examined represent about 380,000 measured individuals or skulls),
concludes that the cephalic indices are distributed over four groups
of well defined areas, viz., a dolichocephalic area, with mesocephalic
enclaves, in the north of Europe; another more pronounced dolicho-
cephalic area in the south of Europe; an area of strongly brachy-
cephalic heads in the center of western Europe, and, finally, a
sub-brachy cephalic area in eastern Europe. A similar cephalic
"world map," constructed from data on living men, and "sufficient
in amount to eliminate the effects of chance," is given by W. Z.
Beddoe (48), in studying 200 boys (16 and 17 years old) found
that those belonging to the navy have larger heads than those of
the reformatory and industrial schools. If anything, he says, their
heads are slightly broader, but within the limits of error. He con-
cludes that the differences in the form of head are connected with
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 403
the locality rather than with any other condition or characteristic.
But Gray and Tocher, who measured about 15,000 school children
from 93 schools, covering 30 parishes, in England, could not draw
such a conclusion; they found only a very little difference in the
cephalic indices of the racial elements, i. e., something racial to
According to Amnion's (49) investigation the longheaded indi-
viduals are concentrated more in the city than in the country. In
studying the recruits of Baden and " Gymnasialschuler " from
Karlsruhe and Mannheim he found that the urban class (those whose
fathers were of city birth, as well as themselves), the semi-urban
class (those born in cities, but whose fathers were immigrants from
the country), and the semi-rural class (those born in the country
who had migrated to the city), as compared with those who re-
mained in the country, show a regularly increasing dolichocephaly
in each generation. He believes that the longheaded individuals
are intelligent, or, as he calls them, "die Auserlesenen," the selected,
because they have either the energy or the physical ability to seek
their fortunes at a distance from their rural place of birth. This
theory of cephalic superiority was accepted by many anthropo-
sociologists (50). But others say that the percentage of dolicho-
cephaly decreases with the progress of civilization. J. Ranke (51),
who studied the " Reihengraber " of Bavaria, the skulls of Lindau,
and the skulls of modern Bavaria, found a very regular decrease of
dolichocephaly and an enormous increase of brachycephaly :
Reihengraber of Bavaria
I. Dolichocephaly: 42
2. Mesocephaly: 44
3. Brachycephaly: 14
Weisbach (52) also found a brachycephalic index for the con-
temporary Austrian Germans. According to Livi (53) in northern
Italy the professional classes are more dolichocephalic than the
peasants, but in the south the reverse is the case. Topinard (54)
says that the cephalic index
"varies in the human races from 71.40 in Greenlanders to 85.63 in Lapps, in
the averages of the series; and from 62.62 in a New Caledonian to 92.77 in Slav
404 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., 13, 191 1
(Wend) in particular instances. The difference is greater if we include the
distorted skulls. A scaphocephaly in the Laboratory of Anthropology has an
index of 56.33, and a Peruvian skull of an Inca, one of 103."
Our intention is not to criticize here all these more or less dif-
ferent theories. All who are familiar with the sources of these
investigations will agree that in many cases it is very hard to decide
what are the reasons of very great differences in the form of the
head. These differences appear to be due partly to the differences
of race, but also, unfortunately, partly to the differences in the
methods, and precision of measurements, and in the mathematical
calculation. It is, therefore, almost impossible to tell in many cases
whether a difference is due to inaccuracy or to variation of indivi-
duals. The past of craniological and cephalometrical studies moved
along the horizontal rather than along the vertical line, a big col-
lection of anthropological data being made without deeper explana-
tion of it. President G. Stanley Hall is right in saying that there
are so few problems in this field yet solved that the great number of
cephalometric and craniometric measurements sometimes insisted
on seem at present little more than affectation (Adolescence, vol. 1,
Evidently further careful studies and investigations are neces-
sary before any dogmatic statement can be made. Does Boas* new
theory present a hope of reaching such a goal? Did he utilize ele-
mentary errors of previous investigators? Did he grasp the diffi-
culties of their theories in shaping his own theory? Is his investi-
gation a progress or regress in experimental physical anthropology
in general and in school anthropometry in particular?
III. The New Theory in Relation to Results
We thought it would be in place to point out the main theories of
the origin of the form of the head before we take up the theories of
Boas, based on his study of immigrants and their descendants.
His new views do not agree with any previous. He himself is
opposed to the first, the mechanical theory. On page 51 of his
report he says:
" It seems conceivable that the change in the length of the head might be due
to the treatment of the infant. While the children born abroad are swathed, the
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 405
method of treatment in families living in America is entirely different. The
swathed child lies on its back, and the continued pressure upon the occiput might
bring about a slight shortening of the skull. All the data relating to correlation
between width of head and length of head are opposed to this assumption."
He is not an enthusiast for the hereditary theory either, be-
cause, he says, the head changes may be inherited, and yet not
necessarily reproduce the characters of the parents. He believes
that it is quite possible that we can leave the problem of the
head entirely out of consideration.
He also does not agree fully with the third main theory, the
geographical-local theory. On page 32 of his report he says that
no evidence has been collected which would show an actual change
in type due to the direct influence of enviromment, because the type
of immigrants changes from year to year, owing to a selection which
is dependent upon the economic conditions of our country, " far-
reaching* ' changes in "type" which "can not be ascribed to selec-
tion or mixture." According to Boas the racial characteristics do
not survive under the new social and climatic environment of
America. We may, therefore, call Boas' theory the environmental-
economic theory, the first theory of its kind ; environmental, because
it claims that the descendants of the European immigrants change
their type "even in the first generation almost entirely."
"Children born not more than a few years after the arrival of the immigrant
parents in America develop in such a way that they differ in type (!) essentially
from their foreign-born parents. These differences seem to develop during the
earliest childhood and persist throughout life. It seems that every part of the
body is influenced in this way, and even the form of the head, which has always been
considered as one of the most permanent hereditary features, undergoes considerable
The theory may be called economic, because it claims that the
panics of 1893 and 1907 caused a "sudden decrease in the general
physical development of immigrants* ' and a "sudden" increase in
the cephalic index.
But before accepting these unexpected scientific results un-
qualifiedly they should first be sifted by those who at least know
the immense difficulties in attacking such complicated problems.
1 Here, as throughout this study, the Italics are mine.
406 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., 13, 1911
Therefore, this critical study. Our purpose is to follow step by-
step the scientific validity of Boas' results on the shape of the
head and his interpretations of them. We will follow the order of
a. Boas 1 First Conclusion
"The head form which has always been considered as one of the most stable
and permanent characteristics of human races, undergoes far-reaching changes
due to the transfer of the races of Europe to American soil. The East European
Hebrew, who has a very round head, becomes more long-headed; the south Italian
who in Italy has an exceedingly long head, becomes more short-headed; so that both
approach a uniform type in this country."
But what is the nature of these ''far-reaching changes," and do
they really affect "the type" of the form of the head? For the
sake of concrete illustration let us compare Boas' results with
those of Hoesch-Ernst (56), Hrdlicka (55), Landsberger (57), Muf-
fang (62), O. Ranke (58), Reuter (59), West (60), Windle (61),
and the results of the study of the Edinburgh and Aberdeen
school children (63). Table I gives this comparison.
Before attempting to make any comparison and draw any con-
clusion, let us clearly state that anthropological science discrim-
inates few types of the head as indicated by the cephalic index
(generally called the "cranial index," or "latitudinal index" or
"index of breath," in contrast to two other altitudinal cephalic
indices, viz., the "vertical index" or "index of height" or the length-
height cephalic index, and the breadth-height cephalic index). It
is a ratio between the width (or breadth) of head and the length of
the head. Say the width (W) is 142 mm. and the length (L) 180
mm. Then the cephalic index (x) is found as follows:
142 X 100
180 : 100 = 142 : x or x = = 78.
T f t f , , ,. . , . WX"ioo.
In short the formula of this index is: x = .
This method of determination of cephalic (or cranial) index was
introduced by a Swedish anthropologist, Andreas Retzius (1742-
1 821) (64). By measuring the skulls he found two extreme indices:
the long or dolichocephalic and the round, broad, or brachycephalic.
THE FORM OF THE HEAD
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408 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST In. s., 13. 1911
Later this number of types was increased to five. Today anthro-
pological science discriminates three main types of the form of head
as indicated by their indices:
(1) Long-headedness (or dolichocephaly) x — 74.99.
(2) Medium-headedness (or mesocephaly) 75 — 79-9.
(3) Broad-headedness (or brachycephaly) 80 — x.
This is the classification of Torok (65), Reuter, Fishberg (66),
and others. Let us now see what the above mentioned " far-
reaching changes 1 ' mean.
If we compare Boas 1 average figures for American-born and
foreign-born Hebrew boys and girls we see that at all ages both
are of the same type — they all are broad-headed. And if we agree
with those authors (Martin (67), Engelsperger and Ziegler, etc.),
who classify broad-headedness into sub-brachycephaly (80-86.9)
and hyper-brachycephaly (87-*) we shall find that both belong to
the same division, sub-brachycephaly. Not one single year is
represented by hyper-brachycephaly (except the Hebrew foreign-
born girls whose average index is just 87, which is, according to
O. Ranke's classification, also under sub-brachycephaly).
Or let us take the Sicilian boys. Boas concludes that the south
Italian, who in Italy has an "exceedingly long head," becomes more
"sZwrZ-headed." But his average values show that not one single
year measured is represented by exceeding long-headedness. The
index of such long-headedness (technically called " hyper-dolicho-
cephaly") is below 70 (according to Hoesch-Ernst's classification),
and the figures for Sicilians show a minimum of 76, which represents
a mesocephalic type of the form of head.
In short: It appears that Prof. Boas' own figures or results do not
prove <his conclusions. It may perhaps be contended that these
figures are only averages. To this we may reply: first, that it is
not customary to draw " entirely unexpected" conclusions from
mere averages, — a method which has been condemned both in
America and in Europe; second, if we take into account all indi-
vidual subjects measured, we find that the number of medium-
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 409
headed is very small. Out of 3,090 American-born Hebrew boys
and girls there are only 13 long-headed individuals (10 boys and 3
girls); out of 2,942 foreign-born Hebrew boys and girls there are
4 long-headed individuals (boys only). On the basis of Boas 1
tables presented in his appendix (Tables III, 5, a, b; Table IV,
4, a, b) we find that the bulk of both American-born and foreign-
born Hebrew boys and girls belong to the same brachycephalic (or
rather to the sub-brachy cephalic) type at all ages represented. The
only exception is the age of 17 in the case of American-born Hebrew
girls, whose largest percentage belongs to mesocephaly (50 per cent.).
The rest are distributed as follows: 36.4 per cent, brachycephaly,
and 13.6 per cent, dolichocephaly.
If we compare the percentages of the whole, regardless of age,
we have the following table :
[ Dolichocephaly j Mesocephaly | Brachycephaly
I. Foreign-born Hebrew boys
II. Foreign-born Hebrew girls
III. American-born Hebrew boys
IV. American-born Hebrew girls
So far as these results go it can not be said that there is a real
sex difference (a fact found also by Wissler (68) in his measurements
of college students, Columbia University), and, therefore, we may
combine these percentages under the two headings thus:
The ratio of these types does not show any "far-reaching
change/ ' because it deals with two distinct groups, and does not affect
the type — the bulk in both belonging to brachycephaly. The tables
show that there is a difference of 1 per cent, in dolichocephaly, 14
per cent, in mesocephaly, and 15 per cent, in brachycephaly, but it
is not known what the differences were in the parents of these two groups.
AM. ANTH. N. S., 13 — 27
410 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s. f 13, 1911
Again, Boas' theory is based not on percentile values but on aver-
ages, showing that there is not one single age represented either
by long-headedness or medium-headedness. Boas' figure 1, repre-
senting the comparison of head forms of American-born and foreign-
born Hebrews, has no bearing on his conclusion, that "the east
European Hebrew, who has a very round head, becomes more long-
headed' ' on American soil. The differences found by Boas, if they
have any real meaning, may be regarded as the normal differences
of separate groups, such as are frequently noticed in separate parts
of the same people.
What is true of American-born and foreign-born Hebrew males
and females is also true of the Sicilians born here and abroad.
Table I does not prove Boas' conclusion that the south Italian,
who in Italy has an " exceedingly long head," becomes more short-
headed, because at all ages represented in this table there is not a
single year represented either by " exceedingly " long-headed or by
the lowest degree of dolichocephaly . The only conclusion we can
draw from Boas' results of the cephalic indices of the American
Sicilians is that the foreign-born American Sicilians, males and
females, from 5 to 18 and over, are highly mesocephalic (cephalic
index, 78-79), with the exception of the ages 5 (males, 80.8), 6 and
7 (females, 80.2; 80), the cephalic indices of which are very slightly
In regard to the American-born Sicilians, both males and females,
we might conclude that the cephalic index is slightly above 82 only
at the age of 12 (ceph. index, 82.1), in males, and at 6 and 16 years
of age in females, whose cephalic indices are 81.2 and 85.0 respec-
tively. The only striking difference affecting the type is shown at
the age of 16 where the foreign-born Sicilian females are highly
mesocephalic (78.4) and their American sisters of the same age
are brachycephalic (85.0). This difference may, however, in
the small number of cases, be entirely incidental. Boas also says
that the adult American-born Italians are " few in numbers," but
he does not state the exact number. Even in his appendix there is
not a single table referring to Sicilians ; and it is, therefore, impossi-
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 4II
ble to see what the number of cases involved in every year tested,
and what the individual distribution of cephalic indices is.
If we take Boas 1 results as they are, and compare them with
those of other school anthropologists we shall see that both Ameri-
can-born and foreign-born Hebrews, males and females, are more
or less sub-brachycephalic throughout the ages measured. These
individuals agree with the subjects measured by Hoesch-Ernst,
Hrdlicka, Landsberger, 0. Ranke, Reuter, and Teumin. In addi-
tion to that we may mention that the average figures of Matiegka
Vosilyev, Schliz, Kraitschek, Engelsperger and Ziegler, and many
others, agree with Boas' results in regard to the cephalic type of his
Hebrew individuals. Schwerz (68a) measured recently 1,788 indi-
viduals in Kan ton Schaffhausen, Switzerland, and found that all of
them were more or less brachycephalic : 83.1 (at the age 6-7 years),
83.5 (7-8), 83.7 (8-9), 824 (9-10), 83.9 (10-11), 83.1 (n-12), 83.2
(12-13), 82.9 (13-14), 834 (14-16), 82.8 (16-17), 82.5 (17-18), 82.8
(18-19), 82.9 (19-20), 82.5 (over 20 years).
In regard to the American-born and foreign-born Sicilians Boas'
average figures show that they are of mesocephalic type. Compared
with the results of other authors mentioned in Table I we see that
Boas' Sicilians agree with the type of the head form of West's sub-
jects in America, and with that of pupils in Aberdeen, Edinburgh,
Liverpool, and Birmingham (England). In addition we may men-
tion that the high mesocephalic type was also found by Browne, Bed-
doe, Gray and Tocher (in England), and by Wissler and MacDonald
(69) (in America) .
Referring to his first conclusion Boas says :
"This fact is one of the most suggestive ones discovered in our investigation,
because it shows that not even those characteristics of a race which have proved
to be most permanent in their old home remain the same under our new sur-
roundings; and we are compelled to conclude that when these features of the
body change, the whole bodily and mental make-up of the immigrants mcty
change" (p. 8).
A short time ago a well-known New York magazine made a
sarcastic reference to the old statement "You can not change
human nature," based on Boas 1 conclusions.
[n. s., 13, 1911
b. Boas' Second Conclusion
" The influence of American environment upon the descendants of immigrants
increases with the time that the immigrants have lived in this country before the birth
of their children"
But this conclusion does not affect the type of the head form,
at least. Here is Boas' table (p. 10) :
Foreign-born boys 5 to 12 years old .. .*
American-born boys 5 to 19 years old:
Born less than 10 years after arrival of mother
Born 10 years and more after arrival of mother
American-born boys 7 to 10 years old:
Born 10 years and more after arrival of mother
Born less than 10 years after arrival of mother
Foreign-born boys 7 to 10 years old
This table shows clearly: (1) that all Hebrew boys (both those
born less than 10 or those born more than 10 years after arrival of
mother in America and those born in Europe) are of the same sub-
brachycephalic type (not one of them is represented by.the average
hyper-brachycephaly !) ; (2) that all Sicilian boys are of the meso-
cephalic type of rather high degree. The American-born and
foreign-born Hebrew and Sicilian boys differ only in degree, which
may be considered as something normal on account of the possible
errors in measuring and calculations, and to the comparatively small
number of cases, or, especially, as due to corresponding differences
in the parents.
In this table Boas compares 5-12 years old foreign-born and 5-19 years old
American-born Sicilian boys with the 7-10 years old Hebrew boys born in
America and Europe. The range of age (and, of course, greater individual
variation) in Sicilian boys is 14 years and in Hebrew boys — only 3 years. Again
the average values for these American-born Sicilian and Hebrew boys does not
correspond with Table IH (p. 12). According to this table the average value
for the American-born Sicilian boys 5-19 years old is 80.5, not 81.3 as is suggested
by Boas* Table II (the average of 80.9 and 81.8). According to our calculation
from Table III the average value for the American Hebrew boys 7-10 years old
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 413
is 82.7, not 82.3 as suggested by Boas' Table IV (the average of 82.3 and 82.4).
According to our calculation from Table III the average value for the American-
born Hebrew boys 7-10 years old is not 84.6 but 84.4. It is very interesting to
note that Boas gives no tables presenting the individual distribution of cephalic
indices of Sicilian and Hebrew boys born less than ten years, or ten years and
more, after arrival of mother. All that he gives is the year of arrival of foreign-
born Hebrew boys and girls, and the year of arrival of mothers of American-born
Hebrew boys and girls (pp. 40-42) without any data in regard to their cephalic
c. Boas' Third Conclusion
"The changes in head form which the European races undergo here consist in
the increase of some measurements, in the decrease of others."
So, for example, Boas found that the length of the head is in-
creased in American-born Hebrews and decreased in American-born
Sicilians; the breadth of head is decreased in American-born He-
brews, but increased in American-born Sicilians.
But what is the nature of this decrease or increase? Table IV
(see next page) will tell the whole story.
From this table we may figure out the increases and decreases,
if foreign-born subjects are compared with those born in America.
The average of maximum increase of the length in the Hebrews
is 3.8 mm. at the age of 19 years; the average minimum increase
for the same race is 0.8 mm. And here is an exception. At the
age of 6 the foreign-born Hebrew boys excel their American-born
brothers in the length of head by 0.6 mm. In regard to the Sicilian
boys we see that the average maximum decrease of length of head is
7.6 mm. at the age of 18 years; the average minimum decrease is
2.1 mm. at the age of 5 years. At the age of 10 years both
are on the same average level, and at the ages of 14 and 17
years the American-born Sicilian boys excel their foreign-born
brothers by 0.5 mm. and 7.0 mm. respectively. And there are other
The average maximum decrease in the breadth of head of the
American-born Hebrew boys is 5.7 mm. (at the age of 18 years)
and their average minimum decrease is 1.0 mm. (at the age of 13
years), with one exception at the age of 19 where there is an increase
[n. s., 13, 1911
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radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 415
of 1.2 mm. The average maximum increase of the width of head
of American-born Sicilian boys is 7.4 mm. at the age of 18; the
average minimum increase is 0.5 mm. (at the ages of 7 and 13);
the exception to this rule is the age of 5 showing a decrease of 2.8 mm.
The fact is that there are exceptions in Boas' "fundamental"
and "far-reaching" discovery. And we may ask, are these in-
creases and decreases of two or three millimeters on the average
due to "the American soil" and "financial panics" rather than to
errors in measuring, calculating, and comparing results and differ-
ences in the parental stock ?
Fig. 55. — a, average European skull; b, Spy skull; c, Neanderthal skull; d, skull
of pithecanthropus; e, skull of gorilla.
It is interesting to note here that all previous anthropologists
found almost the same length of skull in the Europeans, Spy man,
Neanderthal man, pithecanthropus, and gorilla. The difference
of their skulls is shown in the height of the crania, as it is indicated
in the accompanying figure (fig. 55) (after Wheeler: Anthropology,
New York, 1909, p. 36; or Keane: Ethnology, Cambridge, Univer-
sity Press, 1901, p. 145).
There is no difference in the length and breadth of the head,
but only in the height. Boas did not measure the height of the
head. This third head dimension is of about the same difficulty in
measuring as the other two head dimensions, the only difference
being, perhaps, that the measurement of the height of the head
416 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., 13, 1911
needs more time and trials until the required safety is reached.
All modern anthropometricians measure the height of the head
(Hoesch-Ernst, Engelsperger and Ziegler, Browne, Teumin, Reuter,
Hrdlicka, Martin, etc.). By means of this third head dimension
could be figured out other, perhaps more important, cephalic
indices and formulae (i. e. f length-height cephalic index, breadth-
height cephalic index, cephalic module, and cephalic capacity
according to the formulae of Venn-Galton, Schmidt, Pearson and
Lee, or Hoesch-Ernst).
d. Boas* Fourth Conclusion
" The differences in type between the American-born descendants of the immigrant
and the European-born immigrant develop in early childhood and persist throughout
life, . . . The influence of American environment makes itself felt with increasing
intensity, according to the time elapsed between the arrival of the mother and the
birth of the child.' "
But a careful study of Boas' Table IV compels us to disagree
with his conclusion that it " clearly shows the strong and increasing
effect." This conclusion is of still less value if we apply it to the
cephalic index. Let us study carefully his corresponding table giving
the cephalic index of Hebrew males (p. 19) (see Table V opposite).
Are these differences in cephalic index of the total series and of
foreign-born and American-born Hebrew males "the difference in
type," and due to the "influence of American environment ?"
In other words is a plus or minus of 0.1 mm. and a difference in
type due to the American soil? Besides this deviation from the
average does not affect the type of the head form. Both foreign-
born and American-born Hebrew males (regardless of the time of
arrival of their mothers) fall within the brachycephalic type. In
this connection I desire to call attention to what appears to me too
great discrepancies in the numbers of cases recorded under different
We find in the figures of the above table that one age is represented by 2 and
the other by 223 cases (ages of 19 and 14 respectively). In the column three
we see that the age of 6 is represented by 28 cases, but the corresponding tables
of the length and breadth of head (pp. 17 and 18) have only 25 cases. The age
THE FORM OF THE HEAD
Differences in Cephalic Index of Total Series and —
Born less than 10 | Born IO Ye ars after
Years after Arrival | Arrival of Mother
mm. j cases mm.
7 ■ "
17 " .....
20 and over . . .
29 — 101
32 | -0.7
45 ] -1.6
34 ! -1.0
— ! _
of 9 in the same column has 34 cases, but the corresponding tables show 61 cases
each. The age of 10 in the same column has 137 cases, but the corresponding
tables show 140 and 141 cases respectively. The age of 11 in the same column
shows 189 cases but the corresponding tables show only 184 cases each. The
age of 14 in the same column shows 223 cases but in the corresponding tables
there are only 215 and 184 cases respectively. The age of 15 in the same column
has 174 cases, and the corresponding tables only 154 and 126 respectively.
Again the age of 6 in the fourth column shows 15 cases and the corresponding
tables 16 each; the age of 9 shows 100 cases, but the corresponding tables only
82; the age of 10 has 139 cases and the corresponding tables have 136 and 137
respectively; the age of 11 shows 139 cases, and the corresponding tables 144
each; the age of 14 has 134 cases and the corresponding tables 142 each; finally
the age of 15 in the same column shows 63 cases and the corresponding tables 83
The same table shows 803 cases at the age of "20 years and over" (first
column), but the corresponding tables show 802 cases each; the second column
of the same table shows 764 cases for the age of "20 and over," and the corre-
sponding tables have 736 cases each.
It may be contended that all these errors do not materially affect
the conclusions. We do not know. But we believe that these
[n. s., 13, 1911
and other methodological errors may be just the cause of the dif-
ferences, and not the American soil and financial panics. Even by
those minute deviations from the average it can not be certainly
inferred that the greater variation of the figures means that the
Hebrew or Sicilian is undergoing a modification of the shape of the
head on American soil.
e. Boas 1 Fifth Conclusion
" The type of the immigrant changes from year to year, owing to a selection which
is dependent upon the economic conditions of our country. This is shown by the
fact that after the panic of 18Q3 a sudden decrease in the general development of
immigrants may be observed, which persisted for several years. A similar change
seems to have taken place after the panic of 1907."
Here is Boas' table, referring to foreign-born Hebrews, men
and women (p. 28) :
Width of Head
Width of Face
I 880-1 884
I 885-I 889
I 89O-I 894
This table does not warrant such a broad conclusion it seems to
me, and especially in regard to the head form as indicated by
the cephalic index, because it is of the same sub-brachycephalic
type, before and after the panic of 1893. The slight increase (0.3)
of the cephalic index after 1893 is so small that we may with con-
fidence say that it is due to something else than the financial panic.
Even the absolute measurements of the length and breadth of
head show such small differences that they can hardly be ascribed
These differences are of no typical character or fundamental
significance. The same may be said of Boas' differences in cephalic
index between American-born and foreign-born Hebrew children
and their own parents (see his Tables XVI and XVII). It is a fact
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 419
that all Jews, from Roumania, Galicia, Little and White Russia,
Poland, Lithuania (according to Boas' Table XII), including the
foreign-born and American-born Hebrew boys and girls, and. their
parents, are more or less sub-brachycephalic. Even the differences
which Boas found between parents and their children are normal
differences in degree, which may be the result of the countless errors
in such delicate measurements, and other causes.
IV. Critical Remarks on Dr Boas' Methodology.
Regarding the methodology the following criticisms are to be
1. The prime condition in reporting cephalometric results is to
give the modus operandi, to state exactly what is meant by antero-
posterior and transversal head diameter. All that the author says
about those two diameters is that the transver~il diameter is the
"width of the head," and that the second diameter ("or the length
of the head") is measured from the forehead to the back of the head.
But the "forehead" has at least three anthropometrical points —
glabella, ophryon, and metopion. Perhaps the point most gener-
ally adopted was used, namely the point on the glabella, the space
between the eye-brows, but it is not stated. Many anthropome-
tricians (for example, Bertillon (70)) use the point situated on the
root of the nose. And then, is "the back of the head" the inion,
or the highest point on the occiput? Boas fails to state. Is the
width of the head the maximum width of head taken above the
ears wherever found? He also fails to inform us whether he followed
the Frankfurter Verstdndigung (71), or the International Com-
mission AnthropomUrique (72) or some of the English systems
(Cambridge or Dublin Anthropometrical Systems), for example the
method given in the "Report of the Anthropometric Committee
of the British Association" (London, 1910).
2. Boas did not make all these measurements himself. What assur-
ance have we that his staff of thirteen anthropometrical amateurs
exactly understood and applied with uniformity what was meant
by the length and width of head? On page 36 of his report Boas
gives a table of the measurements of his observers, and concludes
420 AMERICAN .ANTHROPOLOGIST In. s., 13, 191 r
that the measurements are " quite comparable." We should like
to. enquire, however, whether those figures are averages of their
"training" taken on the first and fourth Saturdays in May, 1909,
the averages of the second Saturday of their practice, or the
values of the first or last of their trials. This very important fea-
ture is not explained, and it is difficult to understand what the
purpose was in giving the table. But, suppose these figures
are the values of the final trial; then it is difficult to imagine
what the rule is in such delicate practice for original research work.
Bertillon, Martin, and other anthropometricians require from
their students an exactness for the length and breadth of the head
within the limit of about 1 mm. If the difference is as much
as 2 it is regarded as a discrepancy beyond which measurements
cease to make identification of the subject measured possible; and, if
it is over 2, mistakes of a serious character are made beyond which
non-identity can be made. The personal equation of Boas' thirteen
observers who made successive measurements by way of preliminary
practice on each other is in every observer above 0.5 mm. Now, if
these figures represent the final test trial of those observers, then we
can not understand how they can be qualified to take up such a
delicate piece of research work. It is not stated how many times
a subject was measured. Perhaps each subject was measured ten
times. There would be probably ten signalments, differing by very
small quantities. These differences can be, of course, ignored until
they reach a certain point after which they destroy the value of
the measurements. Have Boas' observers reached this point ?
Again, if this point is reached during the practice when each ob-
server's measurements are controlled by their master, what personal
equation can we expect from their main measurements of school
children and adults! Boas, indeed, says that in the case of school
children a "considerable number of control measurements were
made," but he gives no details.
We have to keep in mind the fact that the method in the collecting
of his data is not individualistic but collective (" generalized , " en masse)
in nature. This means Boas did not study the effect of "American
soil " and "financial panics" on the same individuals during a period
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 42 1
of time representing the age of his subjects (4-20 years "and over")
but he collected this data in a very short period, measuring a large
number of immigrants. Why is it not possible that all the supposed
"facts" thus brought to light may be quite spurious, owing to the
great individual differences which may and do exist in the subject?
Just on account of these individual differences it may be that the
variations within a group of a given age are such as to completely
obliterate all the actual peculiarities of the curve of growth. This
difficulty is not touched upon in his theory.
4. Another difficulty with this theory is that big conclusions are
drawn from comparatively few measurements. We are told that the
measurements include about 30,000 individuals, but in the report
are given only the results of measurements on (1) 6,032 foreign-
born and American-born Hebrew boys and girls (Tables III and IV,
in Appendix of Boas' report), 730 foreign-born adult Hebrew males,
according to place of birth (Table I, Appendix), together 6,752
Hebrews; (2) 743 Sicilian boys (both born in Italy and America)
but the number of American-born and foreign-born girls is not
given. In regard to the adult American-born Italians, Boas says
that they are "few in numbers." We are surprised indeed that
he has not a single table in his appendix referring to Sicilians, yet
throughout his report he comes again and again to his discovery
that very short-headed Jews are becoming "long-headed" and
very "long-headed" Sicilians "short-headed." Instead of these
tables, he gives tables occupying 11 full pages, relating to his old
study of the stature of Toronto children, and having no connec-
tion at all with his study of the descendants of immigrants. Again,
from those tables given in the Appendix it is very hard to fix the
exact number of Hebrews. According to Table I, Appendix,
giving the types of foreign-born adult Hebrew males in regard to
the place of birth, Table III, giving the cephalic indices of foreign-
born boys, and Table IV, showing the cephalic index of foreign-born
girls, the whole number of Hebrew immigrants is 3,672. But from
Table II (also in Appendix, pp. 60, 64) we see that there are 1,527
"types of foreign-born Hebrews immigrating at different periods."
Where are the rest of the 2,145 foreign-born Hebrews?
422 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s , 13, 1911
The distribution of individuals according to place of birth,
different periods of immigration, and ages does not seem to be an
As, for example, Hebrews from Lithuania represented by 82 cases and those
from White Russia by 163. Or, the Hebrews immigrating during the period
between 1900 and 1904 are represented by 214, and before 1880 by only 22
cases. Or, the cephalic index for foreign-born at the age of "20 and over" is
based on 764 cases, and at the age of 6 there are only 6 cases. The American -
born Hebrew boys at the age of 12 are represented by 388 cases, at the age of 18
by 5, and at the ages of 4 and 19 by 6 cases only.
In regard to the cephalic index of the foreign-born Hebrew girls the age of
"18 and over" is represented by 895 cases, and the age of 4 by one single girl
only. Of American-born girls, the age of "18 and over" is represented by 65
and the age of 4 by 6 cases.
Now, with such a very uneven distribution of cases it is impossi-
ble to accept the given explanation of his results. The even dis-
tribution of pupils is not an unimportant scientific requirement.
The modern anthropological investigations of the pupils of Meumann
and Martin (Engelsperger and Ziegler, Hoesch-Ernst), Reuter,
Edinburgh and Aberdeen school anthropometric investigations,
etc., had the same number .of each year and sex. Even Quetelet
(73) used this principle in his measurements in his day.
In looking over the tables dealing with the Hebrew subjects we
have found a few more errors, which ought not to be found in the
work of an expert biometrican of high rank, whose investigations
are carried out by a "small army of serious, scholarly-looking young
men" and generously supported by the Immigration Commission.
So, for example, the first table on page 60 of Boas' report shows that there are
214 cases of cephalic indices at the period of 1900-1904 and the two corresponding
tables of the length and breadth of head show only 213 cases each. The first
table on page 64 shows 162 cases of cephalic index in the period of 1 890-1 894, but
corresponding tables show 161 and 163 cases respectively. On page 68 the
average of the length of head of 18 foreign-born Hebrew boys is given as 169.9
instead of 169.4.
The first table on page 72 shows 764 cases of cephalic index at the age of
"20 and over," but the corresponding tables show only 763 cases. On page 82
there are 24 cases of cephalic index at the age of 14,. but the corresponding tables
show 24 and 23 cases respectively. On the same page (second table) there are
65 cases at the age of " 18 and over," and the corresponding tables show 66 and 67
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 423
cases respectively. On page 90 there are 100 cases at the age of 9, but the cor-
responding tables show only 82 cases. On the same page there are 139 cases at
the age of 10, but the corresponding tables show 137 and 136 cases respectively.
The age of 11 is represented by 139 cases, but the corresponding tables show 144
cases each. The age of 14 is represented by 134 cases, and the corresponding
tables show 142 cases each. The age of 15 years shows 63 cases, but the cor-
responding tables show 20 cases more. The ages of 18 and 19 are represented
by 2 cases each, but the corresponding tables of the length and width of head show
not one single case.
5. Another difficulty in the way of accepting Boas' theory is the
fact that his statements in regard to the methods of his other records and
measurements are not as complete as they should be. So, for example,
he does not say what he means by the figures representing the age
of his subjects. Do they represent the "last birthday" or the
"nearest birthday" or, perhaps, something else? The same am-
biguity we find when we want to know what is meant, by the "general
physiological development of the individual," "stature," "weight/'
"width of face." All that he says about "general physical develop-
ment" is that observations were made on pubescence as a means of
determining the approximate physiological development." How-
ever, he mentions that the "method of these observations has been
developed by Dr C. Ward Crampton, but it is available only for
the short period of adolescence." The question is now, was the
same, or similar, or a different method used from that of Cramp-
ton and what is this method? Again, he says that in "those New
York schools in which bathrooms are established it was possible
to obtain the weight of children without clothing." But how about
other schools and individuals investigated? We also fail to see
the precise method in measuring the stature of body. Did the
subjects stand in the upright position with or without shoes?
Again, what is meant by the distance "between the zygomatic
arches"? This measurement is subject to great errors if the
method of taking is not exactly stated, especially in measuring the
living. Is it not possible that the "surprising and unexpected
changes" in width of the face and other measurements are due to
inexact statements and consequent inaccurate measurements ?
A similar difficulty confronts us in regard to the instruments
424 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., 13, 191 1
On page 33 of his report we are told that the "color of hair, eyes and skin"
was studied. On page 37 we are told that "a standard of hair-colors made by
Messrs. B. Dickson & Co., of New York" used. But this "standard" is not
described. Is this standard something new in principle and structure, or is
it superior for example to the " Haarfarbentafel " of Fischer? Is there any
scientific reason for preferring to use "no samples of eye-colors" instead of
Martin's eye-colors (which, according to Boas, were "not as successful as might
have been desired"), or Bertillon's chart of the colors of the human iris? Prefer-
ence seems to have been given to guess-measurements of the eyes by young men
of little experience over the best scientific means in that matter, "on account of
the great expense involved in the purchase of a sufficient number of sets"
(the "Augenfarbentafel" of Prof. Martin costs about #16). Nor were the
"standards" for the determination of the skin-color used.
On page 34 of his report Boas says that he copied the full records which have
been kept in the Newark Academy for many years. He gives a blank used for
recording the measurements in this school but he does not state how many pupils
were measured, who measured them, what was the method in measuring the
"stature," "weight," "grip," "color of eyes," ''hair," "skin," "length of head,"
"width of head," and "width of face." Again Boas says that he used this
record for the sake of studying the "American families settled in this country
for several generations and living under more favorable conditions." Do results
of his report include the results of these records? If these records refer to
the American-born Hebrew and Sicilian boys, from what tables can we see this
fact? Did he treat the results of his staff together with these strange records?
On page 34 of his report Boas says that "in the schools it was necessary to
obtain statistical information from the parents." He gives a blank for collecting
this information but he does not state who filled out those blanks — the members
of his staff, teachers, parents, or children. As the blank includes the following
"I . . . came to America . . . years ago; in the year . . . My father came to
America . . . My mother came to America . . . Father's father . . . Father's
mother . . . Mother's father . . . Mother's mother came to America . . .,"
there is room for the suspicion that these blanks were filled in by children.
6. Another difficulty in Boas' theory of the head form is that
he explains it by the use of means to which, I claim, he is not entitled.
On page 11 of his report he gives three sketches of head form
which are reproduced in the accompanying figure (fig. 56).
In the upper row there is " the more rounded" head form of the
foreign-born Hebrew (1), and "the more elongated" head form of
the Sicilian (2). Below these two there is a form of the head of the
descendants of the Hebrews and Sicilians born more than 10 years
after the arrival of their mothers (3). Careful study of these three
THE FORM OF THE HEAD
Fig. 56. — Slightly reduced from Immigration Commission Rep., Senate Doc. No. 20-8.
sketches will show that their cephalic indices are of the same type; all
three represent brachycephaly, since the length of each of the three
(original) sketches is almost the same (56 mm.), and the width 49,
46, and 46 mm. respectively. The corresponding indices of these
sketches is above 82, representing the same type of head form. The
slight difference is one of degree only; and, if we take into account the
possible errors in such delicate head measurements, and especially
if we have in mind the difficulties above mentioned, we may be
AM. ANTH., N. S„ 13— 28
[n. s., 13, 191 1
Fig. 57. — Upper, front, and side views of skulls of the Long and Round Barrow
Races, photographed by A. C. Haddon from specimens in the Cambridge Anatomical
Museum. On right, Long Barrow, Dinnington, Rotherham. Length, 204; breadth, 143;
cran. index, 70.1; male. On left, skull of a man of the Round Barrow Race, from a
secondary interment, two feet below the surface, in a long barrow, Winterbourne
Stoke. Length, 177; breadth, 156; cran. index, 88.1. (Reproduced from Haddon's
The Study of Man by courtesy of G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.)
justified in doubting whether these differences are due to the
effect of "financial panics" or " American soil."
But these sketches were made so that they give an impression
of "more rounded" and "more elongated." This impression is
not due to the mere ratio between length and width of head but
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 427
to the shape of head as viewed from above. And then, in his plan of
investigation he did not use this, Sergi's "natural system" of
classification of the shape of head. He did not even measure either
the total horizontal circumference, or the forehead (the smallest
width of forehead), or any other part of the head form, except the
length and width of the head. These sketches of head forms are,
therefore, based not on his measurements but on pure imagination.
According to Sergi's natural classification, the head form may be
"ellipsoides," "ovoides," "pentagonoides," "sphenoides," etc. (74)
but not "more rounded' ' or "more elongated." To show the
reader what a "more elongated" and "more rounded" skull really
means, we will use the accompanying figure from Haddon (75)
( n §- 57)- In Boas' sketches there are no "more elongated" head
forms but all of them are of the same brachy cephalic type, more
or less broad. There is no reference either to Sergi's demonstration
that a head which, according to the measurements of the cephalic
index ought to be of dolichocephalic type, might be of brachy-
cephalic type and vice versa, or to Manouvrier's (76) theory that
the variations of the cephalic indices are the most insignificant
7. Attention must also be called to Professor Boas' citation
of authors. He has apparently overlooked almost all the new
anthropometrical movements outside of America, and it would seem
from his references that his reading here has been uniquely re-
stricted. He mentions the names of few authors (Gould, Baxter,
H. P. Bowditch, C. W. Crampton, M. Fishberg), and gives only
one reference (p. 38). This quotation is of such a nature that we
can not see any special scientific reason' for quoting one authority
and not the works of other authors mentioned also.
Further, on page 46 Professor Boas says:
" In all races of man the head becomes slightly longer with increasing
age, so that a young son is always more round-headed than his father."
He does not state who discovered that fact nor does he give any
references. He states this result in a categorical manner. But the
fact is that authorities do not agree on this point and dogmatic
assertion is misleading. So, for example, Weissenberg (77), who
428 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s.. 13. 191 1
studied Russian Jewish children en masse, found thefollowing indices :
86.4 (for 3 newborn children), 84.7 (for 4 five year old children),
84.0 (for 25 ten year old), and 82.5 (for 100 " grown* ' children).
But such regular decreases were not proven by any other author.
And then the number of Weissenberg's cases is too small to draw
any general conclusions from, especially if we take into account
that he did not measure the same children from year to year.
Landsberger, who measured the same children yearly (from 1880-
1886) found an average yearly increase of 1.0 in cephalic index.
Lucae (78), who studied 20 boys from their third to their fourteenth
year, found a slight decrease of cephalic indices in 16 boys; in one
case the cephalic index was the same from six to ten years of age, and
in three cases there was an increase from year to year. 0. Ranke,
who studied a large number of children, could not establish Weis-
senberg's results. Lecourtois (79) and Bonnifay (80) agree with
Ranke. Lecourtois, on the basis of his own measurements, claims
that the cephalic index of a newborn infant remains constant
throughout life. Bonnifay found rather a slight increase of the
cephalic index with age. Gray (63) in his Aberdeen report remarks
that the cephalic index was less in the older than the younger girls,
but in boys it was the same at all ages tested between six and
The comparison of the results of our Table I will show clearly
that Weissenberg's regularity of decrease in the degrees of cephalic
index (not in cephalic type 1 .) is not proven. And even the sup-
posed " general irregularity " of West and others is of doubtful
scientific value, because these " general regular increases " may be
due not to age or any "law" of the cephalic periodicity (similar to
the periodicity in the body growth) but to countless mistakes and
errors in measurements, comparisons, and mathematical calcula-
tions. Some biometricians and experimental psychologists make a
fetish of figures. Mathematical calculations in anthropometry and
experimental psychology, as also in experimental pedagogy, are of
fictitious value if we do not know exactly the nature of their modus
operandi and the exact value of their "units."
All that we can say from these "general regularities" is that the
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 429
type of the head form is not materially affected by age; it is always
either brachycephalic or mesocephalic. That these differences may
be due to methodological mistakes and personal equations was
proven by Binet (ji), who measured the same pupils with the same
instruments on several days r and found differences in results. He also
compared his results with those of three well-known French anthro-
pometricians, Manouvrier, Deniker, and Lapique, who used the
same instruments (compass-glissi&re k triple graduation), and meas-
ured the same pupils on the same day, and found that the results
did not agree. Gray (63) found that the measurement with Hep-
burn's callipers was uniformly greater than the measurements with
Hay's instrument. All these facts are only an additional reason
why the cephalic measurements must be taken not once or twice in
succession, but five, ten, or even more times, until the difference
required of these measurements is limited to about 0.5 to 1 mm.
Yes, the two common head measurements (length and breadth)
are not in themselves difficult, but they require a good deal of
attention, patience, and perseverance. Anthropometrical and
cephalometric work is like all other work: the more attention is
paid to its details, the better results it yields.
V. General Summary
To summarize then, the main objections to the new theory of
1. That his theory of the head form does not agree with his actual
results. From his tables we see that all Hebrews (born in America
and in different countries of Europe) are of the same sub-brachy-
cephalic type. Not one age, not one sex, not one individual of
Hebrew nativity is represented either by dolichocephalic or by
mesocephalic type. The same is true in its way of the Sicilians
measured. They are of a high mesocephalic type, both in America
and in Europe.
2. That the normal differences in degree of these two types are prob-
ably not due to the " American soil 11 or "financial panics," as Boas
maintains, but to the countless methodological, technical, and mathemati-
cal difficulties which we have shown. It is a well known fact that even
430 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s. f 13. 191 1
specialists, experienced in technical methods of measurement, can
make serious mistakes in measuring the same head, if they have
not taken the precaution to harmonize their methods at the
beginning, while Boas' results are based, not on his own measure-
ments but on those of thirteen amateurs. It is also interesting
in this connection to note Boas' own statement, that the work of
his staff "had to be pushed with considerable energy," "owing to
the necessity of collecting material in time for the present report."
3. That his method in collecting scientific data is uncritical; he
fails to state exactly the points from which measurements were made,
to explain his modus operandi, or to give an objective account of the
previous theories of the head form, while there are many errors and in-
consequences in his tables.
4. That his theory is based rather on a cross-section of the facts than
on a genetic interpretation of them. It is only a genetic description and
explanation of them that can give a trustworthy basis for a theory.
"Durch das Werden wird das Gewordene klar." What we also
need in physical anthropology is to learn* the methods and grammar
of physical anthropology in relation to historical, evolutionary facts.
Boas ignores all previous theories of head form, even the American
biological (G. Stanley Hall) and sociological (Ripley) interpretation
of this large subject.
5. That he began and finished the investigation in which he was put
in general charge without requisite scientific exactness and care. In
the "Introductory" to his report we read the following:
"A small appropriation was made to test the question and see if the promise
of results was sufficient to warrant the continuance of the investigation. Almost
immediately it became evident that there might be much value in such a study,
and the work has therefore been continued, although as yet only on a small scale."
It is to' be regretted that he does not state on what grounds it
became "almost immediately" evident.
The "mystery" of New York environment could be partially
solved either by repeating the same measurements on the same
subjects and correcting the tables or by attacking this big problem
with less temper, but on a really new, scientific plan, which can
stand any professional criticism. This was and is the only way to
radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 43 1
save both the public and science from prejudicial, provincial, and
To conclude : J contend that the theories advanced by Boas in re-
gard to physical changes in the immigrants to the United States and
their children neglect the various influences which, in different degrees,
affect different subjects in the tests, and pours all data from whatever
source into the statistical mill, which in consequence expresses an
anthropologically meaningless result.
i . Boas, Franz. Changes in bodily form of descendants of immigrants. Wash-
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mission, Senate Document No. 208).
2. Darwin, Ch. Descent of Man, vol. 1, p. 82.
3. . Variations of Animals, vol. 1, p. 117.
4. Welcker, H. Kraniologische Mittheilungen (Archiv fur Anthropologic, 1,
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6. Holden. Human Osteology. Edited by Ch. Stewart and R. W. Reid,
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8. Mtiller, A. Uber die wechselseitige Beziehungen zwischen Kopfform und
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Anthropomorphen und Menschen durch Untersuchung mit Rontgen-
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10. Papillault, G. Ontogenese et phylogenese du crane humain (Rev. d'ecole
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11. Haeckel, E. Unsere Ahnenreihe (Progonotaxis Hominis) . Kritische Studien
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13. Myers, Ch. S. Contributions to Egyptian Anthropology (Jour. Anthr,
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432 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., 13. 1911
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15. Mobius, P. Geschlecht und Kopfgrosse, Halle, 1903 (Beitrage zur Lehre von
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32. Tscherowskovsky, E. Contribution to the study of heredity and variation in
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radosavljevich] THE FORM OF THE HEAD 433
die Vererbung des Kopfindex von seiten der Mutter (Korrespondenzblatt
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34. Chamberlain, A. F. Some recent anthropometrical studies (Ped.. Seminary >
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I. Anthropometrischer Teil (Meumann's Zeitschrift fur die Experimentelle
Padagogik, 1905, 173/235)-
37. Schliz, A. Eine Schulkinderuntersuchung zum Zweck der Rassenbestimmung
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38. Teumin, S. Topographisch-anthropometrische Untersuchungen iiber die
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40. Venn, J. Cambridge Anthropometry (J. Anthr. Institute, London, xvm,
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Indians of Southwestern United States and northern Mexico (Smithsonian
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liche Ergebnisse einer Reise durch die vereinigten malaischen Staaten.
434 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., i 3 , 191 i
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Martin's long expected Lehrbuch der Anthropologic is in print.
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Badener. Statistik uber rund 30,000 Wehrpflichtigen und Gymnasiasten,
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1899, PP. 338.
52. Weisbach, A. Beitrage zur Kenntnis der Schadelformen osterreichischer
Volker (Mediz. Jahrbucher der Gesellschaft der Arzte in Wien, Jahrgang,
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Gesell. in Wien, xxiv, 1894, 232/46).
53. Livi's distribution of the cephalic indices for Italy is given by Lapouge,
L'Aryen, 1899, pp. 441, 443. See also Ripley, Races of Europe, 1899, PP-
54. Topinard, T. Anthropology. English Translation by R. T. H. Bartley,
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55. Hrdlicka, A. Anthropometrical Investigations on One Thousand White and
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Asylum, With Additional Notes on One Hundred Colored Children of
the New York Colored Orphan Asylum (47th Annual Report of the New
York Juvenile Asylum, New York, 1899, pp. 86); Physical Difference be-
tween White and Colored Children of the Same Sexes and the Same Ages
(Proc. Amer. Ass. Sci., xxvn, 1898, 475/6). See also his measurements
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56. Hoesch-Ernst, L. Anthropologisch-psychologische Untersuchungen an
Zuricher Schulkindern nebst einer Zusammenstellung der Resultate der
wichtigsten Untersuchungen an Schulkindern in andern Landern (Meu-
mann's "Das Schulkind in seiner korperlichen und geistigen Entwicklung,
1. Teil, Leipzig, Nemnich, 1906).
57. Landsberger. Das Wachstum im Alter der Schulpflicht (Archiv fur Anthn>-
radosavljevicHj THE FORM OF THE HEAD 435
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16. Lebensjahre (Zeitschrift fur Schulgesundheitspflege, i, 1888, 65/9).
58. Ranke, O. Anthropometrische Untersuchungen an gesunden und kranken
Kindern mit besonderer Beriicksichtigung des schulpflichtigen Alters
(Zeitsch. f. Schulgesundheitspflege, xviii, 1905, 719/45, 816/37).
59. Reuter, F, Beitrage zur Anthropologic Hinterpommerns. Eine Schulkind-
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and Korperbau (Archiv fur Rassen and Gesellschafts-Biologie, v, 1908,
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children; the growth of the body, head and face (Science, N. Y., xxi, 1893,
61. Windle. On the physical characters of a group of Birmingham pupil teachers
(female) (Proc. of Birmingham Nat.-hist. and Phil. Soc, 1895).
62. Muffang, M. H. Ecoliers et etudiants de Liverpool (L' Anthropologic, Paris,
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64. Retzius. Ethnologische Schriften. Stockholm, 1864. After: L. Milykovich
The Science of Man: Somatology and Anthropology. Belgrade, Serbian
Government Printing Office, 1891, pp. 385.
65. Torok, A. Versuch einer systematischen Characteristik des Kephalindex
(Archiv fiir Anthropologic, 1905, 110/29); Reform der Kraniologie (Int.
Monatsschrift f. Anatomie und Physiologie, vol. xi); Grundziige einer
systematischen Kraniometrie, Stuttgart, 1890.
66. Fishberg, M. Physical Anthropology of the Jews. I. The Cephalic Index
(Amer. Anthropologist, 1902, 684/706).
67. Martin, R. Anthropometrische und Craniometrische Technik. Zurich,
Fiissli, 1903, pp. 6.
68. Wissler, C. Correlation of Mental and Physical Tests (Psych. Rev., Monogr.
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68a. Schwerz, F. Untersuchungen iiber das Wachstum des Menchen (Arch. f.
Anthrop., x, 191 1, pp. 1-38).
69. MacDonald, A. Experimental Study of School Children. Washington,
D. C, Government Printing Office, 1899.
70. Bertillon, A. Signaletic Instructions. Chicago, New York, and London:
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71. Archiv fiir Anthropologic, xv, 1883.
72. L' Anthropologic, Paris, xvii, 1906, 560/572.
73. Quetelet. Anthropometric ou Mesure des Differentes Facultes de L' Homme.
43^ AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [n. s., 13. 191 r
74. Sergi, G. Die Variationen des menschlichen Schadels und die Klassification
der Rassen (Archiv fur Anthropologic, in, 1905, iii/22). Translation from
75. Haddon, A. C. The Study of Man. London, Bliss, Sands & Co., 1898,
plate 1, pp. 64.
76. Manouvrier, L. L'indice cephalique et la pseudo-sociologie (Rev, l'ecole
d'anthrop., Paris, ix, 1899).
77. Weissenberg, S. Die sudrussischen Juden. Eine anthropometrische Studie
(Archiv fur Anthropologic, xxm, 1895, 347/425, 531/81).
78. Lucae, J. Ein Beitrag zuni Waehstum des Kindeskopfes von 3.-14. Lebens-
jahre (Festschrift der 13. Jahresversammlung der deutschen anthro-
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79. Lecourtois. Bulletin de la Societe d* Anthropologic, 1869, pp. 720; Forme du
crane dans ['Hydrocephalic (Rev. mensuelle des maladies de Tenfance,
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New York University,
New York City.