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Saturday, September 30, 2017


And...we're back with a few more upcoming October releases! Today we want to showcase Ms. Linda Swift and her upcoming releases with Prairie Rose Publications AND Fire Star Press! These three excellent books are available for PRE-ORDER NOW, and will be released on October 17th! Jump on over to Amazon right now to work the Kindle magic by buying each of them with one click--they will magically appear on your kindle on October 17th!


Once in love, Leigh and Russell are maneuvered into spending time together during the Christmas holidays. Recovering from a tragedy, Leigh vows never to be responsible for a child again while Russell faces deciding custody of his two daughters after his ex-wife remarries.

Even as their attraction flares once more, how can they possibly overcome the obstacles life has placed between them? Then toss an arsonist, a lovable Labrador, and an unwanted stepfather into the situation...

Will the twelve days of Christmas be time enough to sort it all out?


Kala's position as tour guide at a Kentucky Welcome Center isn't enough to cope with huge debts left by her late husband's illness, but she manages to make ends meet, until she has car trouble. To save on future repairs, she enrolls in a basic auto-care class.

Rex is a handsome, part-time instructor whose broken heart needs repairing, too. After recently losing his important job and family, he has sworn never to get involved with another woman.

Kala discounts her growing attraction to Rex when she learns he is years younger, until the winter storm of the century throws them together. When the Interstate closes down, Kala opens her home to a houseful of strangers. Despite fire, flood, and friction, she creates an old-fashioned holiday rich in the true spirit of Christmas. In the process, will Kala and Rex discover the greatest gift of all?


Heart-warming Civil War Tales

A Season of Miracles
Caroline Ross, a Confederate widow, desperately seeks medical help for her little son in the Union Army camp.

John Oldham, a soldier disowned by his family for choosing the wrong side, comes to her aid.

As they keep a vigil for days at Danny's bedside, a close relationship develops between them. John longs for a family and wants to make Caroline and Danny his own. Will his wish come true in this season of miracles?
• ♥ •
A Season for Love
Elizabeth Harper, a recent widow, is in danger of losing her home and livelihood to her late husband's brother who is claiming legal ownership.

Matthew Sutton, a homeless wounded veteran, takes on her cause when he agrees to become her husband to stop Fred Harper's takeover. Elizabeth and Matthew have no intentions of falling in love, but love happens. Can she convince him that she looks beyond his past allegiance and useless arm and loves the man he has become?
• ♥ •
A Season to Forgive
Enid Sutton is resigned to remaining single and caring for her dictatorial father in the aftermath of the Civil War. When Judge Sutton suffers a heart attack, Enid sends for his estranged son who returns and brings his new family with him.

Ben Taylor arrives to claim his deceased aunt's property and convert the mansion into a school for freedmen, but his plans go awry.

We'll be back again next Friday with MORE OCTOBER RELEASES to show you!

Friday, September 22, 2017


Livia and I have been crazy-busy with the fall coming on and of course, the end of the year following on its heels! That means Christmas, and holiday stories, and of course, contest deadlines. This past 18 months has seen the closure of some small presses out there, and we have welcomed some new authors from their ranks into our PRP family. This means Livia and I are pouring on the speed to try and get even more books published!

October marks a red letter month for both of us, though, because we both managed--in all the craziness--to get a book of our own out there, each. Here's part of what we've got coming up next month--some excellent reading in many of our imprints, in all lengths, as you can see from the banner Livia made for us!

Going back to school can be a killer!

Phyllis Newsom and Sam Fletcher come out of retirement to take substitute teacher jobs as a favor for some friends, but they soon realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That means getting up early, dealing with students and other teachers, and helping out with extracurricular activities. The problem is, for Phyllis, stumbling over dead bodies is an extracurricular activity!

When murder strikes at the school’s Friday the Thirteenth dance, it’s unlucky not only for the victim but also for the student who’s the prime suspect. Sam’s granddaughter has a crush on the boy and can’t believe he’s a killer. Neither can Phyllis. The police are convinced, though, so the only way Phyllis can help him is to uncover the true identity of the killer stalking the halls of the high school before it’s too late!


A woman with no home…
Beautiful Southern belle Julia Jackson has just been informed she and her niece must find a new home immediately—or else. With no family to turn to in Georgia, Julia takes a mighty gamble and answers an advertisement for a nursemaid in wild Indian Territory—for the child of a man she knows nothing about. Together, she and five-year-old Lauralee waste no time as they flee to the safety of the new position Julia has accepted. She can only hope this move will be the start of a bright future for them away from Lauralee’s dangerous much older half-brother.

A rancher with no heart…
The death of Devlin Campbell’s young daughter has ripped the light from his life. Though the birth of his son, little Jamie, should have been a source of happiness, the subsequent loss of his wife forces Dev to ignore his emotions and trudge through life’s joyless responsibilities. But all that changes with the arrival of Miss Julia Jackson from Atlanta! Not at all what Dev is expecting in response to his ad, his resentment boils over at her failure to mention her tag-along niece—a painful reminder of the loss of his own little girl just two years earlier. Yet, how can he deny the sunshine Julie brings into his drab existence with her very presence?

Can love find a way?
In the depths of Dev’s boundless sorrow and his accompanying anger, is there room in his life for anyone else as Christmas approaches? Can Julie convince him that love is the cure for a broken heart, and hope is the only recipe for a new beginning between THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON…


Here's a wonderful short story by Sarah J. McNeal about a topic we don't usually hear much about--breast cancer in men. This is a touching story of how a young musician must face that and the havoc it wreaks in his life...but can there be happiness for him again?

Gideon thought he had the perfect life as a musician with a beautiful model as his girlfriend, until he was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Ashamed and afraid he may die, Gideon hits bottom when his girlfriend dumps him for a real man.

Hope comes in the form of his father’s ghost and a person he has just met. Can he beat the odds and survive? And if he does, can he ever find happiness again?


I'll be back next Friday with a sneak peek at MORE of our super October releases!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Note: Lorelei-Book II of the Trinity Hill Brides has been a big seller. Great, huh? After all, aren't we in this business to make money? Well, not always. Satisfaction is often our reward.
But the ending of this story disappointed some readers and they didn't mind telling me about it, either. Me? I thought the ending was clever--but too many readers didn't get that part as I saw it. (Lesson Learned.)
One year, I began keeping a list of every book I read--or tried to. For my own private notes, I used a check mark for books I liked very much, a check mark plus for an outstanding read, and a question mark for books that bewildered me in some way, or did not have a good ending. Most of the books have check marks. Very few have a question mark.
Maybe ten have a Check Mark Plus. Something about each Check Mark Plus story made an impression on me, which made me think about it after I read the last page. Notice I didn't say "a happy impression." Not all the books had the same kind of ending, but all the story lines were good. They held my attention. I turned the pages, anticipating the next scene. And…I remember how they ended.
Remember "Gone With the Wind?" Who could not remember the story and especially—the ending. "I'll worry about that later. After all. Tomorrow is another day." It did not end happily, at least for Scarlet and Rhett, but it left us hanging a little. What would Scarlet do? We felt certain she would survive and move on, so we weren't very distressed. What would Rhett do? Probably he would return to his old habits and continue being the rogue that he was—with a broken heart, of course. The ending gave us a rare opportunity to imagine the next phase of their lives.
What does a reader wait for at the end? Satisfaction is the key word. The novel must have an ending that satisfies the reader. If not, the reader most likely will not return to that particular author. Just what does "satisfy" mean? 1. To answer in full.  2.  To make happy. 3. To convince 4. To meet requirements.
Surprised? A satisfactory ending does not always mean the same as "A Happy Ending." Nor does "a happy ending" hold the same meaning for everyone. For faithful romance authors and readers, a HEA is a requirement. Ninety percent of the books I read fall into this category. Even though I do read others that I know won't end happily, I look for some satisfaction for my protagonist—and myself.
What was the last book you read that did not have a perfect HEA, but you liked it anyway?
What is the best kind of ending for you to recommend a book?
Note: I'm sure I spend more time in the ending of the story than the beginning. I can never seem to end the story to my great expectations. Maybe I  expect too much? Perhaps a simple ending is best instead of one that continues to explain. The ending to Gone With the Wind is best for that book. But would it suffice for some other story?
If you are an author, how do you feel about endings of stories?
Celia Yeary...Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Monday, September 18, 2017

James Marshall, the Man Who Discovered Gold in California

James Marshall's discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in California in 1848 started the California Gold Rush.

Born in 1810, Marshall followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a skilled carpenter and wheelwright. When his father died in 1834, he headed westward, spending some time in Illinois and Indiana before in 1844  settling in Missouri in an area created by the Platte Purchase. There he began farming along the Missouri River where he contracted malaria, a common affliction in the area. On the advice of his doctor, Marshall left Missouri in the hopes of improving his health.

Marshall joined an emigrant train heading west and arrived in Oregon's Willamette Valley in the spring of 1845. He left Oregon in June 1845 and headed south along the Siskiyou Trail into California, eventually reaching Sutter's Fort, California in mid-July. The founder of Sutter's Fort, an agricultural settlement. Sutter was also the alcalde of the area, as California was still a Mexican possession in 1845. Sutter hired Marshall to assist with work at the sawmill, and around the fort (carpentry, primarily). He also helped Marshall to buy two leagues of land on the north side of Butte Creek, which is a tributary of the Sacramento River, and provided him with cattle. It was here that Marshall began his second stint as a farmer.
Replica of Bear Flag Revolt flag

Soon after this, the Mexican-American War began in May 1846. Marshall volunteered and served under Captain John C. Frémont's California Battalion during the Bear Flag Revolt. When he left the battalion and returned to his ranch in early 1847, he found that all his cattle had either strayed or been stolen. With his sole source of income gone, Marshall lost his land.

Marshall soon entered into a partnership with Sutter for the construction of a sawmill. Marshall was to oversee the construction and operation of the mill, and would in return receive a portion of the lumber. After scouting nearby areas for a suitable location, he eventually decided upon Coloma, located roughly 40 miles (64 km) upstream of Sutter's Fort on the American River. He proposed his plan to Sutter, and construction began in late August. His crew consisted mainly of local Native Americans and veterans of the Mormon Battalion on their way to Salt Lake City, Utah. 
The caption with this photo at the Library of Congress claims that this was Marshall in front of the mill in 1850. However, it was not. The historians at Marshall Gold State Historic Park have concluded that it is not Marshall and believe it to be the photographer's assistant put in the photo to show scale.

It was at the sawmill that, on January 24, 1848, he discovered gold in the water flow through the mill’s tail race. The following is Marshall’s account:

I picked up one or two pieces and examined them attentively; and having some general knowledge of minerals, I could not call to mind more than two which in any way resembled this, sulphuret of iron, very bright and brittle; and gold, bright, yet malleable. I then tried it between two rocks, and found that it could be beaten into a different shape, but not broken. I then collected four or five pieces and went up to Mr. Scott (who was working at the carpenter's bench making the mill wheel) with the pieces in my hand and said, "I have found it."
         "What is it?" inquired Scott.
         "Gold," I answered.
         "Oh! no," replied Scott, "That can't be."
         I said,--"I know it to be nothing else."

The metal was confirmed to be gold after members of Marshall's crew performed tests on the metal—boiling it in a lye solution and hammering it to test its malleability. Marshall, still primarily concerned with the completion of the sawmill, permitted his crew to search for gold during their free time.
Sutter's Fort
By the time Marshall returned to Sutter's Fort, four days later, the war had ended and California was about to become an American possession. Marshall shared his discovery with Sutter, who performed further tests on the gold and told Marshall that it was "of the finest quality, of at least 23 karat, or 96% pure.

The following is John Sutter’s account:

It was a rainy afternoon when Mr. Marshall arrived at my office in the Fort, very wet. I was somewhat surprised to see him, as he was down a few days previous; and then, I sent up to Coloma a number of teams with provisions, mill irons, etc., etc. He told me then that he had some important and interesting news which he wished to communicate secretly to me, and wished me to go with him to a place where we should not be disturbed, and where no listeners could come and hear what we had to say. I went with him to my private rooms; he requested me to lock the door; I complied, but I told him at the same time that nobody was in the house except the clerk, who was in his office in a different part of the house; after requesting of me something which he wanted, which my servants brought and then left the room, I forgot to lock the doors, and it happened that the door was opened by the clerk just at the moment when Marshall took a rag from his pocket, showing me the yellow metal: he had about two ounces of it; but how quick Mr. Marshall put the yellow metal in his pocket again can hardly be described. The clerk came to see me on business, and excused himself for interrupting me, and as soon as he had left I was told, "now lock the doors; didn't I tell you that we might have listeners?" I told him that he need fear nothing about that, as it was not the habit of this gentleman; but I could hardly convince him that he need not to be suspicious. Then Mr. Marshall began to show me this metal, which consisted of small pieces and specimens, some of them worth a few dollars; he told me that he had expressed his opinion to the laborers at the mill, that this might be gold; but some of them were laughing at him and called him a crazy man, and could not believe such a thing.

After having proved the metal with aqua fortis, which I found in my apothecary shop, likewise with other experiments, and read the long article "gold" in the Encyclopedia Americana, I declared this to be gold of the finest quality, of at least 23 carats. After this Mr. Marshall had no more rest nor patience, and wanted me to start with him immediately for Coloma; but I told him I could not leave as it was late in the evening and nearly supper time, and that it would be better for him to remain with me till the next morning, and I would travel with him, but this would not do: he asked me only "will you come tomorrow morning?"  

I told him yes, and off he started for Coloma in the heaviest rain, although already very wet, taking nothing to eat. I took this news very easy, like all other occurrences good or bad, but thought a great deal during the night about the consequences which might follow such a discovery. I gave all my necessary orders to my numerous laborers, and left the next morning at 7 o'clock, accompanied by an Indian soldier, and vaquero, in a heavy rain, for Coloma.

About half way on the road I saw at a distance a human being crawling out from the brushwood. I asked the Indian who it was: he told me "the same man who was with you last evening." When I came nearer I found it was Marshall, very wet; I told him that he would have done better to remain with me at the fort than to pass such an ugly night here but he told me that he went up to Coloma, (54 miles) took his other horse and came half way to meet me; then we rode up to the new Eldorado.

In the afternoon the weather was clearing up, and we made a prospecting promenade. The next morning we went to the tail-race of the mill, through which the water was running during the night, to clean out the gravel which had been made loose, for the purpose of widening the race; and after the water was out of the race we went in to search for gold.

This was done every morning: small pieces of gold could be seen remaining on the bottom of the clean washed bed rock. I went in the race and picked up several pieces of this gold, several of the laborers gave me some which they had picked up, and from Marshall I received a part. I told them that I would get a ring made of this gold as soon as it could be done in California; and I have had a heavy ring made, with my family's cost of arms engraved on the outside, and on the inside of the ring is engraved, "The first gold, discovered in January, 1848." Now if Mrs. Wimmer possesses a piece which has been found earlier than mine Mr. Marshall can tell, as it was probably received from him. I think Mr. Marshall could have hardly known himself which was exactly the first little piece, among the whole.
Marshall's Discovery Site Today
The next day I went with Mr. Marshall on a prospecting tour in the vicinity of Coloma, and the following morning I left for Sacramento. Before my departure I had a conversation with all hands: I told them that I would consider it as a great favor if they would keep this discovery secret only for six weeks, so that I could finish my large flour mill at Brighton, which had cost me already about from 24 to 25,000 dollars - the people up there promised to keep it secret so long. On my way home, instead of feeling happy and contented, I was very unhappy, and could not see that it would benefit me much, and I was perfectly right in thinking so; as it came just precisely as I expected.

As word quickly spread, some 80,000 miners flooded the area, extending up and down the length of the Sacramento Valley, and overrunning Sutter’s domain. Ironically, neither Sutter nor Marshall ever profited from the discovery that should have made them independently wealthy. Though Marshall tried to secure his own claims in the gold fields, he was unsuccessful. His sawmill also failed, as every able-bodied man took off in search of gold. Soon, the area surrounding Sutter's Mill became the first mining boom town in California - Coloma.

Embittered, Marshall left the area, drifting from place to place in California, looking for yet another rich strike. In 1857, he returned to Coloma and started a vineyard in the early 1860's. Initially profitable, his endeavors as a vintner would also fail when, by the end of the decade, increased competition and less demand put him out of business once again.

Marshall then returned to prospecting and wandering about the state. He soon partnered up with another miner in a gold mine near Kelsey, California. However, the development of the mine proved expensive and yielded nothing, leaving the unlucky Marshall once again close to bankruptcy.  

In 1872, Marshall had a turn of luck when the California State Legislature awarded him a two-year pension in recognition of his role in an important era in California history.

The pension was renewed in 1874 and 1876, but lapsed in 1878. According to the legend, Marshall then went to visit the legislature assembly in person to get the pension renewed again. However, when a brandy bottle dropped from his pocket and rolled on the floor, no additional pension was awarded.
Marshall cabin in Coloma
Marshall continued to live in Kelsey, in a spartan homesteader's cabin, earning money from a small garden until his death on August 10, 1885. His body was then taken to Coloma and buried on the property where he had owned his vineyard.

In 1886, the members of the Native Sons of the Golden West, Placerville Parlor #9 felt that the "Discoverer of Gold" deserved a monument to mark his final resting place. In May 1890, five years after Marshall's death, Placerville Parlor #9 of the Native Sons of the Golden West successfully advocated the idea of a monument to the State Legislature, which appropriated a total of $9,000 for the construction of a monument and tomb which can be seen today, the first such monument erected in California. A statue of Marshall stands on top of the monument, pointing to the spot where he made his discovery in 1848. The monument was rededicated October 8, 2010 by the Native Sons of the Golden West, Georgetown Parlor #91 in honor of the 200th Anniversary of James W. Marshall's birth.


John A. Sutter, 1857. Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2017;

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical western romances. Five of her books in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, , Big Meadows Valentine, A Resurrected Heart, Her Independent Spirit, Haunted by Love  and Bridgeport Holiday Brides, have been published by Prairie Rose Publications and are available. A sixth full-size novel, Luck Joy Bride, is in the works.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Of witches and curses by Kaye Spencer

Witch Hill, Salem, Massachusetts
Library of Congress - citation below

The place is Salem, Massachusetts.

The year is 1692.

Some 200 people, mostly women, are accused and interrogated.

Approximately 150 men, women, and children are imprisoned. Some escape or are eventually released.

Nineteen people are convicted and hanged: Bridget Bishop – George Burroughs – Martha Carrier – Martha Corey – Mary Easty – Sarah Good – Elizabeth Howe – George Jacobs, Sr. – Susannah Martin – Rebecca Nurse – Alice Parker – Mary Parker – John Proctor – Ann Pudeator – Wilmott Redd – Margaret Scott – Samuel Wardwell – Sarah Wildes – John Willard  – and Giles Corey is pressed to death.

The charge is...


Rebecca Nurse in chains
(citation below)

In January of 1692, the witchcraft hysteria grew during the winter months and gained momentum as the New England year moved into the summer months. On September 22nd, the final eight of a total of twenty people who were  accused, tried, and subsequently condemned of the crime of witchcraft were hanged. But it wasn't until May 11, 1893, that this terrible ordeal ended when the last of the accused witches were cleared by proclamation of the special tribunal.*

Sarah Good was one of the first three women accused of witchcraft, and her life ended on Gallows Hill.** (see Note below) According to legend-based-in-facts, just before her execution, Rev. Nicholas Noyes, Jr. asked her to confess. Her famous last words were, “I am no more a witch than you are a wizard and, if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink.” Twenty-five years later Noyes died of a hemorrhage and literally choked on his own blood.

Prophecy? Witchcraft? Karma? Coincidence?

Whatever descriptor you choose, Sarah Good's last words held the conviction of her innocence and the belief in her eventual vindication for such a grievous wrong done to her.

Sarah Good's Memorial Stone
(citation below)
Sarah Good's last words are at the heart of my short novella, For Love of a Brystile Witch. The plot for this story developed from these what-ifs..
  • What if a woman hanged as a witch in 1692 New England put a death curse on the hanging judge and a curse of sorrow on the women of the Brystile line in the moments before she was hanged?
  • Then what if, 200 years after the hanging, fate brought together the last living woman from the accused witch's family and the last man from the hanging judge's family?
  • What if love and forgiveness between heredity enemies can end the curse?
  • What if these two strangers have only a month to right this 200-year-old wrong before time runs out for both families and the curse will go on forever?
  • And what if only one of them knows it?
Here is an excerpt.

Colorado – September 1892

Reid needed no urging to mount the steps and, in spite of herself, Mercy kept watching. He ascended with an easy gait, the ball of each polished boot touching lightly upon the next plank. Once on the platform, he turned toward the crowd, head bowed and hat brim throwing a shadow over his features. Sheriff Samuel Dunne and Axel Moser, the valley’s minister of twenty some years stood on either side of the condemned man, and the deputies took watchful positions behind them and off the trap door...

The sheriff’s voice rose above the crowd’s murmurings. “If you have any last words, speak them now.”

For the longest time, Reid didn’t move. The quiet in the street became quieter. A baby cried; a woman shushed it. The autumn breeze ceased blowing. Mercy held her breath, entranced by the scene playing out before her. When he lifted his chin, she sucked in a little gasp of pity. His eyes—such sadness—maybe it was regret. Whatever his pain, it was deeper than the prospect of leaving this life in a few minutes. Did he deserve to die like this? Alone? With no one here to mourn his passing? Certainly, she didn’t know, but she blinked away tears for him nonetheless.

His deep voice resonated through the silent streets. “I hold the world, but as the world…a stage where every man must play a part. And mine is a sad one.”

A gasp of sorrow at his utter hopelessness left Mercy’s lips and, as if he’d heard, he caught her gaze with his, holding it in a way that made her feel he was memorizing her face as the last tender sight he’d take with him to the grave.

Sheriff Dunne waited a few seconds for the man to say more. When nothing came, he addressed the crowd. “As the duly appointed legal authority in Dulcet Valley, I hereby declare this hanging to proceed this first day of October 1892. The condemned will hang by the neck until dead, and his body will be interred in the local cemetery with a gravestone bearing his name, birth, and death dates. As per his signed and witnessed last requests, his epitaph will read, Teach me to feel another’s woe. Reverend Moser will settle his debts and notify next of kin.”

Those words—

She knew the poem and went on in her head with the next lines…to hide the fault I see / that mercy I to others show / that mercy show to me. It was strange that the word mercy, her given name, would show up in duplicate at this moment. Two of any one thing meant balance, partnership or opposites, either way it meant a pairing of something. Since coincidences didn’t exist in her world, Fate was at work here. She swept a hurried glance around the area, searching for other signs she’d overlooked.

“Let it be known the Honorable Judge J. A. Swanson has authorized me to accept a plea of innocent and commute the death sentence.” He leveled a hard gaze on the condemned man. “Reid Leighton Corvane, this is your last chance to save your own life.”

What? A Corvane? Here?” The words burst forth, loud and unbidden. Jolted, stunned to her bones, Mercy grabbed a better hold on the branch to keep her seat. So her months of conjuring had proven fruitful after all.

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer

Writing through history one romance upon a time

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Image Citations:
  • Image of Sarah Good's memorial stone - stone commemorating the death of Sarah Good, hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. The stone is part of the Salem Witch Trials Tricentennial Memorial (dedicated in 1992) in Salem, Massachusetts, USA. [no changes made to image - photographer: ] 2017.09-12
  • Image of Rebecca Nurse in chains - By Freeland A. Carter, artist - The Witch of Salem, or Credulity Run Mad, by John R. Musick. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1893. p. 275. See [1], Public Domain, {{PD-US}} – published in the U.S. before 1923 and public domain in the U.S. 2017.09-12
  • Image of Witch Hill, Salem, Massachusetts - Detroit Publishing Co., Copyright Claimant, and Publisher Detroit Publishing Co. Witch Hill, Salem, Mass. [Between 1900 and 1906] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>. 2017.09-12
**Note: Regarding Gallow's Hill: Article about the identification of the location of 'Proctor's Ledge' and the dedication ceremony of July 19, 2017.

Other References
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017


By Kristy McCaffrey

Phrenology was a pseudoscience based on the idea that a person’s character could be discerned from the shape and unevenness of the head or skull. Developed by Franz Joseph Gall, a German physician, in 1796, the subsequent practice of phrenology became popular in the 19th century, especially from 1810 to 1840.

Gall’s conclusions were based on the idea that the brain is the organ of the mind and is composed of many distinct areas, each governing a faculty of a man’s personality. So, the size of the organ was a measure of its power and therefore the shape of the brain was determined by the development of these various parts. As such, the surface of a skull could be read as an accurate index of psychological aptitudes and tendencies.

Phrenology was quite big in Britain but it was most successful in America in the 1830s and 1840s. Many employers would demand a local phrenologist to examine future-employees as a character reference, and this practice was later extrapolated to the reformation of criminals.

American Institute of Phrenology, New York, 1893.

Scientific proof of the efficacy of phrenology was in short supply, however, with proponents highlighting only evidence that supported their claims, while dismissing any findings that did not uphold the ‘truth’. Visiting a phrenologist was similar to seeking advice from a psychic, clairvoyant or astrologer, and the ignorant and gullible were especially susceptible to claims made by these practitioners.

Phrenology, with its focus on personality and character, can be separated from similar disciplines such as craniometry (the study of skull size, weight, and shape) and physiognomy (the study of facial features).

A definition of phrenology circa 1895.

Phrenology eventually became discredited, but the British Phrenological Society (founded in 1887) wasn’t disbanded until 1967.

Connect with Kristy

Available at Amazon