CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
TitleAnthropometrical laboratory records
Date1896 - 1984
Extent10 boxes, 14 volumes
Administrative HistoryProfessor Robert W. Reid established an anthropometrical laboratory in the Anatomy department in 1896, where the physical characteristics of students were recorded. From 1896 - 1900 (and possibly subsequently) he also recorded measurements of the local Aberdeen Constabulary. Research from his early records led to publications, in the 1920s, on the relationship between cranial capacity and intelligence and on the shared physical characteristics of people belonging to North East Scotland, Norway and Sweden. The results of his research were published in and reported locally at the meetings of the University's Anatomical and Anthropological Society.

A separate series of anthropometrical observations made by Reid's successor, Alexander Low, laid the foundations for the Aberdeen Growth Study of 1956 and related research on the growth of children - work which had a significant impact on the wider medical community and remains on-going in the University today.

During the twentieth century, the Department also collaborated with local physicians and hospitals in providing anthropometric measurements and analysis for clinical cases (often adolescents) who were being assessed or treated for various conditions involving growth anomalies.
DescriptionAnthropometric observations of student subjects:
Anthropometrical Laboratory Registers of Observations, 1896 - 1938; Anthropometrical Laboratory Registers of Fingerprints, 1896 - 1938; anthropometric record cards, 1939, 1941 - 1964, 1973/4, 1983 - 1984.

The registers of observations and registers of fingerprints are part of the same records set and should be used together: the registers of observations contain biographical details, photographs and physical measurements of subjects, whilst the registers of fingerprints contain a fingerprint record and analysis of the same subjects. Each subject was given an 'observation number' and this acts as a finding aid when correlating entries in the registers of observations with those in the registers of fingerprints.

In 1939 the registers were discontinued and a new anthropometric record card devised that held all of the relevant subject details in a single record. The card created in 1939 remained in use until at least 1974. By the 1980s, the format had altered slightly, although the information gathered remains largely unchanged. Blank examples of the cards used pre-1939 and post-1970s are held at MSU 1332/5/3/29.

Further details regarding the information recorded in the anthropometric registers and cards will be found in the 'Description' field of the respective sub-series headings.

Anthropometric observations of non-student subjects:
Anthropometrical Laboratory Register of Fingerprints: Aberdeen Constabulary, 1896 - 1900; anthropometric record cards of non student subjects, 1953; anthropometric records for clinical cases, with related correspondence, 1945 - 1966.
ArrangementThe records of student subjects and non-student subjects are considered separately. Records of student subjects are listed in sub-series MSU 1332/5/1 - 3. Those of non-student subjects are listed in sub-series MSU 1332/5/4.
Access StatusRestricted
Access ConditionsAccess restrictions apply to some records described in this series: further details are available at the appropriate item level descriptions. Other records in the sub-series are open, subject to the signed acceptance of the Department's access conditions.
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