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Edward Anthony Spitzka and Edward Charles Spitzka papers
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Edward Anthony Spitzka and Edward Charles Spitzka papers
    Inclusive Dates: 1862-1919
    Bulk Dates: 1880-1913
    Collection Number: mssSpitzka1
    Creator: Spitzka, Edward Anthony, 1876-1922
    Extent: 52 boxes (21.7 linear feet)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Fax: (626) 449-3477
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: Personal and professional papers and research material related to the life and career of anatomist and brain morphologist Edward Anthony Spitzka. There is also some material related to his father, notable neurologist Edward Charles Spitzka.
    Language of Material: The majority of the material is in English; however, there are items in German, French, Italian and other languages.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department.

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining permission rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Edward Anthony Spitzka and Edward Charles Spitzka papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Series 1, 2, and 3 were purchased from Michael Brown Rare Books, May 2018 and series 4 was purchased from The Key Antiques, June 2018.


    Edward Anthony Spitzka, anatomist and brain morphologist, was born in New York City, the only child of Edward Charles Spitzka, a neurologist, and Catherine Wacek. He graduated in 1898 from the College of the City of New York. After that, Spitzka entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and graduated with his M.D. in 1902. In 1901, while still a student, Spitzka autopsied the brain of Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley. The autopsy propelled Spitzka to the national limelight and reinforced his earlier studies on the anatomy of the human brain, forming the basis for his later studies on the potential link between brain morphology and behaviour. After receiving his degree in 1902, Spitzka remained at Columbia University for four years. In 1906, at the age of twenty-nine, Spitzka was appointed professor and chair of general and descriptive anatomy at Thomas Jefferson University. In 1913, after the death of George McClellan, who had been the chair of applied and topographic anatomy at Jefferson, both chairs were consolidated under Spitzka's leadership.
    Spitzka published his detailed analysis of the brains of the American Anthropometric Association members, a group of well-known and accomplished individuals who agreed to donate their brains for study, in 1907. The group was founded in part by his father, Edward Charles Spitzka. He co-edited various versions of Gray's Anatomy and in 1911 was appointed director of the newly opened Daniel Baugh Institute of Anatomy, Thomas Jefferson College. In his research, Spitzka had a special interest in brain morphology, particulary that of famous and influential people, persons of different races, and individuals involved in criminal behaviour (especially murderers). Spitzka's investigations explored whether or not there were morphological features of the brain that might correlate with special talents or abilities or with behavior, good or bad. Spitzka often attended executions at prisons and then was allowed to study the brains for their traits, as well as the effect of electricity on brain tissue. Spitzka published much material resulting from these brain autopsies. In November 1912, due to paranoid behavior and excessive use of alcohol, he was given a year's leave of absence "on account of health." He never returned, and he resigned in 1914. He joined the Medical Corp in June 1917, and was honorably discharged in January 1919. In September 1922, Spitzka, like his father before him, died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was survived by his wife, Alice Eberspacher Spitzka and their son, Edward Jefferson Spitzka (1908-1952).
    Edward Charles Spitzka, neurologist and psychiatrist, was born in New York City, the son of Charles A. Spitzka and Johanna Tag. He attended the College of the City of New York, and graduated with his M.D. in 1873 from the University of New York. After spending time in Europe, Spitzka returned to New York and opened a practice that dealt primarily with diseases of the central nervous system; he also conducted research on the anatomy of the brains of animals and humans. While in Europe he met and married Catherine Wacek. Their only son, Edward Anthony Spitzka was born in 1876. Spitzka lectured and wrote many articles from his research. He was especially vocal about the inadequate treatment of the mentally ill patients in the U.S. He quickly became an expert witness in legal proceedings where mental state was an issue.
    Spitzka joined the American Neurological Association (ANA) in 1877. He was an editor of the American Journal of Neurology and Psychiatry (1881-1884) and became president of ANA in 1890. Spitzka was also a member of the New York Neurological Association and was president from 1883 to 1884. In December 1881 Spitzka was compelled, by order of the court, to testify for the defense at the trial of Charles Julius Guiteau, the assassin of President James A. Garfield. Spitzka believed Guiteau was insane but his opinion did not prevail and Guiteau was convicted and hanged. In 1883, Spitzka published Insanity, its classification, diagnosis and treatment, his text on mental diseases. Spitzka died in 1914 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

    Scope and Content

    Collection of correspondence, papers, and ephemera related to the life and professional work of Dr. Edward Anthony Spitzka and his father Dr. Edward Charles Spitzka. The chief subjects covered are: neurology, criminology, psychiatry and behavioral psychology and brain morphology. The collection also includes manuscripts, drafts of articles, lectures, post-mortem autopsies, notes and research data. There are also hundreds of drawings of brains, skulls and heads, mostly drawn and labeled by E.A. Spitzka; also included are postcards, telegrams and one diary. The collection also contains thousands of journal, magazine and newspaper clippings, mostly organized by topic or subject. There is also an extensive medical pamphlet/offprint collection of approximately 900 items from the late 19th and early 20th century, many of these are signed presentation copies to E.A. Spitzka. The majority of published items deal with neurology, psychiatry, criminology, and abnormal psychology. They are written by E.A. Spitzka, Edward C. Spitzka, and various prominent physicians.
    There is also material related to Edward C. Spitzka's work with assassin Charles Julius Guiteau and E.A. Spitzka's autopsy of the brain of assassin Leon Franz Czolgosz. The results of E.A. Spitzka autopsies of the brains of both criminals and prominent men (members of the American Anthropometric Association) are in the collection.
    Series 1 is made up of correspondence between the E.A. Spitzka and other physicians, clippings and miscellaneous material about various topics such as anarchists, brains, anthropology, anatomy, the murderer Chester Gillette, electrocution and capital punishment, race and immigration, various medical issues, and E.A. Spitzka's autopsies of both father and son, Dr. Edward Seguin and Dr. E. C. Seguin. Series 1 also contains a diary kept by E.A. Spitzka (1887-1899).
    Series 2 is chiefly the results of the autopsies of brains of criminals and prominent men performed by E.A. Spitzka including Leon Franz Czolgosz and the Van Wormer brothers (who murdered their uncle in 1901). There are also files about Charles Julius Guiteau, including drawings, as well as files of newspaper clippings about various topics such as African Americans, neurology, murders in New York City and others.
    Series 3 is made up of offprints of articles by both Spitzkas, Dr. Paul Näcke and other prominent physicians from the years 1864 to 1913 as well as other printed items.
    Series 4 contains files on anatomic and anthropometric methods, the brains of eminent men, capital punishment, the digestive system, evolution of the human brain, suicide and various medical issues. This series also includes reprints about the brain of John Wesley Powell and files on individuals who were then defined as feeble-minded or defective human beings. This series also contains personal material such as family photos, personal correspondence and information about E.A. Spitzka's time at Jefferson Medical College.


    Organized in the following manner: Boxes 1-14: Subject Files, Miscellaneous Material, Diary and Notes; Boxes 15-25: Executions, Autopsies and Crime; Boxes 26-43: Offprints and Printed Material, and Boxes 44-52: Personal Files, Reprints and Subject Files. The files were essentially kept in the original order created by Edward Anthony Spitzka and his original folder titles were used. Although from a different provenance, the fourth series was kept with the other three as they were originally together in Spitzka's files and contain the same kind of material and cover the same subjects. The majority of the files are in alphabetical order within their series.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Allen, Harrison, 1841-1897
    Ariëns Kappers, C. U. (Cornelius Ubbo), 1887-1946
    Bailey, Pearce, 1865-1922
    Bardeen, Charles Russell, 1871-1935
    Bryce, Thomas Hastie, 1862-1946
    Crichton-Browne, James, 1840-1938
    Czolgosz, Leon F., 1873?-1901
    Daland, Judson
    Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945
    Dercum, Francis X. (Francis Xavier), 1856-1931
    Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939
    Garfield, James A. (James Abram), 1831-1881 -- Assassination
    Gies, William John, 1872-1956
    Guiteau, Charles J. (Charles Julius), 1841-1882
    Harrison, Ross G. (Ross Granville), 1870-1959
    Hays, I. Minis (Isaac Minis), 1847-1925
    Hirt, Ludwig, 1844-1907
    Hardlička, Aleš, 1869-1943
    Judd, Charles Hubbard, 1873-1946
    Keen, William W. (William Williams), 1837-1932
    Kraft-Ebing, R. von (Richard), 1840-1902
    Leidy, Joseph, Jr., 1866-1932
    MacDonald, Carlos F. (Carlos Frederick), 1845-1926
    Mall, Franklin P. (Franklin Paine), 1862-1917
    Manouvrier, L. (Léonce), 1850-1927
    Marchand, Felix, 1846-1928
    Matiegka, Jindřich, 1862-1941
    McClure, S. S. (Samuel Sidney), 1857-1949
    McKinley, William, 1843-1901 -- Assassination
    Miller, Francis Trevelyan, 1877-1959
    Mills, Charles K. (Charles Karsner), 1845-1931
    Morselli, Enrico Agostino, 1852-1929
    Näcke, Paul, 1851-1913
    Osler, William, Sir, 1849-1919
    Pearl, Raymond, 1879-1940
    Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920
    Pepper, William, 1843-1898
    Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902
    Rauber, A. (August), 1841-1917
    Seguin, E. C. (Edward Constant), 1843-1898
    Seguin, Edward, 1812-1880
    Simms, Joseph, 1833-1920
    Smith, William Benjamin, 1850-1934
    Spiller, William G. (William Gibson), 1863-1940
    Spitzka, E. C. (Edward Charles), 1852-1914 -- Archives
    Spitzka, Edward Anthony, 1876-1922 -- Archives
    Starr, Frederick, 1858-1933
    Starr, M. Allen (Moses Allen), 1854-1932
    Train, Arthur, 1875-1945
    Train, George Francis, 1829-1904
    Wilder, Burt G. (Burt Green), 1841-1925
    Woodruff, Charles Edward, 1860-1915
    Wyeth, John A. (John Allan), 1845-1922
    Yamakawa, Kenjirō

    Corporate Names

    Jefferson Medical College


    Abnormalities, Human
    Anatomists -- Archives
    Brain -- Research
    Capital punishment -- United States -- History -- Sources
    Electrocution -- United States -- History
    Medicine -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
    Medicine -- History -- 20th century -- Sources
    Mental illness -- Treatment -- United States -- History -- 19th century
    Mental illness -- Treatment -- United States -- History -- 20th century
    Physicians -- United States -- Archives


    Clippings (information artifacts)
    Drawings (visual works)
    Letters (correspondence)
    Manuscripts for publication
    Offprints -- 19th century
    Offprints -- 20th century