1869. Francis Galton publishes his influential book Hereditary Genius. Within it, he attempts to understand the heritability of human intelligence from a social sciences perspective. This volume proved a cornerstone of the nascent eugenics movement.
Hereditary Genius was published four years after the MacMillan articles, "Hereditary Talent and Character" (1865), and drew on the same principles and influences. This includes Adolphe Quetelet's Letters on the Theory of Probabilities, and Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Like the MacMillan articles, Hereditary Genius used pedigree analysis on eminent men and their relatives, in order to prove that talent, character, and genius were heritable traits, and more likely to appear between close relatives.
The book is considered Galton's most famous, although it was considered provocative upon its publication (Wozniak, 1999). Hereditary Genius is also significant as it used statistics and explored normal distribution. Using these, Galton attempted to quantify human traits, and evaluate them (Reeve, 2001). The use of the latter two made the book the first to use quantitative differential psychology (Wozniak, 1999).
A second edition, with a new preface by Galton, was released in 1892. It may be read in its entirety online.
-Colette Leung and Amy Dyrbye
Galton, F. (1869). Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry Into its Laws and Consequences. London: Macmillan and Co.
Wozniak, R. H. (1999). Introduction to Hereditary Genius Francis Galton (1869). Classics in Psychology, 1855-1914: Historical Essays. Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Press.
Reeve, E. (Ed.). (2001). Encyclopedia of Genetics. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers.