Graphical version

University College London



Reference code(s): GB 0103 GALTON

Held at: University College London


Date(s): 1612-1926

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 111 boxes

Name of creator(s): Galton | Sir | Francis | 1822-1911 | Knight | eugenicist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born in Birmingham, 16 February 1822; the naturalist Charles Robert Darwin was his first cousin; educated in Boulogne, Kenilworth and King Edward's School, Birmingham; trained in medicine, Birmingham General Hospital and King's College London until 1840; read mathematics and medicine, Trinity College Cambridge, 1840; awarded BA, 1844; gave medicine when father died, 1844; devoted his life to travel, and the study of the weather, physical and mental characters in man and animals, the influence of heredity on them, heredity in twins, fingerprints and personal identification; awarded the silver medal of the French Geographical Society, 1851; awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1853; Fellow of the Royal Society, 1860; one of the founders of the review journal The Reader, 1864-1866; one of the founders, with Karl Pearson and Walter Frank Raphael Weldon, of Biometrika, a journal for the statistical study of biological problems, 1901; founded the Galton Laboratory of National Eugenics at University College London (later named the Galton Laboratory, Department of Human Genetics and Biometry); knighted, 1909; died, 1911. Publications: Address to the Anthropological Department of the British Association, Plymouth, 1877 (W Clowes & Sons, London, 1877); Arts of campaigning: an inaugural lecture delivered at Aldershot (London, 1855); Decipherment of blurred finger-prints (Macmillan & Co, London, 1893); English men of science: their nature and nurture (London, 1874); Eugenics: its definition, scope and aims (1905); Finger prints (Macmillan & Co, London, 1892); Fingerprint directories (Macmillan & Co, London, 1895); Generic images (William Clowes & Sons, London, 1879); Hereditary genius: an enquiry into its laws and consequences (London, 1869); Index to achievements of near kinsfolk of some of the Fellows of the Royal Society (Clay & sons, London & Bungay, 1904); Inquiries into human faculty and its development (Macmillan & Co, London, 1883); editor of Life history album (Macmillan & Co, London, 1884); Memories of my life (Methuen & Co, London, 1908); Meteorographica, or methods of mapping the weather (London & Cambridge, 1863); The narrative of an explorer in tropical South Africa (London, 1853); Natural inheritance (Macmillan & Co, London, 1889); Notes on modern geography; Probability, the foundation of eugenics (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1907); Psychometric experiments (William Clowes & Sons, London, 1879); Record of family faculties (Macmillan & Co, London, 1884); The art of travel: or, shifts and contrivances available in wild countries (London, 1855); The first steps towards the domestication of animals (1865); The telotype; a printing electric telegraph (London, Cambridge and New York, 1850); Noteworthy families (1906); Experiments on "Prehension" (London, 1887).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers and correspondence, 1612-1926, of Sir Francis Galton, consisting of papers relating to the personal history of Galton and his family, 1612-1926 (Ref: 1-116); papers relating to Galton's scientific work, 1850-1922 (Ref: 117-188); correspondence, 1765-1923 (Ref: 189-345).


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Arranged in three main sub-fonds as indicated in Scope and content.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Published catalogue A list of the papers and correspondence of Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) held in the Manuscripts Room, the Library, University College London compiled by M Merrington and J Golden (University College London, 1976); name and subject index. More detailed descriptions of the three sub-fonds named are available online.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers were deposited in University College London by Sir Francis Galton's executors soon after his death in 1911. They were added to by gifts from his nephew, Edward Galton Wheler-Galton, and from other members of the family. Purchases were made from sale rooms and private owners by Karl Pearson and other members of the Galton Laboratory during the following thirty years.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

University College London Special Collections also holds photographs of, and papers relating to, Galton in the Pearson Papers (Ref: PEARSON), and letters of Galton to A G Butler (Ref: MS ADD 305), to Millicent Lethbridge 1883-1910 (Ref: MS ADD 310), and to James Sully (Ref: MS ADD 158).

The Royal Geographical Society holds astronomical observations, 1850-1851, and letters to Royal Geographical Society, 1855-1902; Oxford University Museum of the History of Science has some papers relating to Galton; Oxford University Museum of Natural History holds correspondence, mainly letters to Sir E B Poulton, 1887-1908; the Royal Society hold letters and papers of British scientists; the McLennan Library at McGill University has a Galton notebook, 1894-1897; Cambridge University King's College Modern Archive Centre holds letters to Oscar Browning, 1884-1886, (Ref: OB); the Department of Manuscripts and University Archives at Cambridge University Library holds letters to Charles Darwin (Ref: Darwin), and letters to Sir George Stokes, 1868-1885 (Ref: Add 7342, 7656); the British Library Manuscript Collections holds correspondence with MacMillans the publishers, 1861-1909 (Ref: Add MS 55218); Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories holds letters to Lord Rayleigh, 1876-1908.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: British Library on-line public access catalogue 1997; Historical Manuscripts Commission, on-line UK National Register of Archives. Compiled by Annabel Dodds as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Sep 2000

Eugenics | Heredity | Genetics
Scientists | Scientific personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People

Personal names
Galton | family
Galton | Sir | Francis | 1822-1911 | Knight | eugenicist

Corporate names