News | Published:

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1753–1840)

Nature volume 145, page 63 (13 January 1940) | Download Citation



JOHANN FRIEDRICH BLUMENBACH, a pioneer in anthropology and craniology, was born on May 11, 1752, at Gotha. He studied medicine at Jena under Soemmering and qualified in 1776 at Göttingen, where he was appointed extraordinary professor of the practice of medicine in the following year and full professor in 1778, In his thesis entitled "De generis humani varietate nativa" (1776), which according to Garrison is the starting point of modern ethnology, he based his classification of mankind upon the shape of the skull and the facial configuration as well as on the colour of the skin. As the result of his craniological investigations, he divided the human race into five great families: the Caucasian or white race, the Mongolian or yellow, the Malayan or brown, the Negro or black, and the American or red.

About this article

Publication history





    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing