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Papers of George Combe (1788-1858), lawyer, phrenologist and educationist, and his household.

Identifier: MSS.7201-7515

Scope and Contents

George Combe was educated at Edinburgh High School and at Edinburgh University, where he studied law; he became a Writer to the Signet in 1812. At this time he began to study the phrenological works of Franz Josef Gall and Johann Kaspar Spurzheim, and soon became a fervent advocate of that science. In 1837 he gave up his legal practice to devote himself to spreading the causes of phrenology, secular education, and criminal and prison reform, travelling widely in Europe and America. His views on practical education and moral training were pioneering, but were generally lost from view in the downfall of phrenology.


  • Creation: 1804-1872, undated.

Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


189 Volumes ; Except where specially noted, the papers in each volume are of various sizes, folio and under.

Language of Materials



The papers fall naturally into nine major sections, with a small miscellany appended. The sections have been subdivided where necessary. Chronological order has been preserved within each section or subdivision, and alphabetical arrangement adopted where possible within each year.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented, 1950, by the Combe Trustees.

Separated Materials

For a few formal documents, see Ch.7595-7610.

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
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