The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BLUMENBACH, bloo'mĕn-bạH, Johann Friedrich, German naturalist of distinction: b. Gotha, 11 May 1752; d. Göttingen, 22 Jan. 1840. He studied at Jena and Göttingen, and was appointed in the latter, in 1776, extraordinary professor of medicine and inspector of the museum of natural history, and in 1778 ordinary professor. In 1812 he was appointed secretary to the Royal Society of Sciences at Göttingen, in 1816 became physician to the King of Great Britain and Hanover, in 1821 was made a knight-commander of the Guelphic Order, and in 1831 was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences at Paris. In celebration of his medical jubilee (1825) traveling scholarships were founded to assist talented young physicians and naturalists. In 1835 he retired. The first work which brought him into notice was the ‘De Generis Humani Varietate Nativa,’ and from its publication in 1775 he continued almost for 60 years to exert a powerful influence on the progress of science. Among his numerous published works are the ‘Institutiones Physiologicæ’ (1787), long a textbook in many of the most celebrated schools of Europe; the ‘Handbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie’ (‘Handbook of Comparative Anatomy,’ 1805) and ‘Collectio Craniorum Diversarum Gentium’ (1790-1828). The last work gives descriptions and figures of his collection of skulls, one of the most extensive in existence, and is still preserved at Göttingen. Blumenbach held decidedly that the human race formed only one species, and had originally descended from a single pair; but he divided it into the five varieties of Caucasian, Mongolian, Negro, American and Malay. Consult Mark's ‘Memoir’ (1840).