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November 8, 1965


JAMA. 1965;194(6):666-667. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090190088026

Francis Galton was born in Birmingham, England, into a Quaker family of fortune and great ability in real estate, business, and professional pursuits. After a classical education, Francis studied medicine in the Birmingham General Hospital and completed a year of formal training at King's College, London.1 At the age of 18, he abandoned medicine and entered Trinity College, Cambridge; there he showed an interest in meteorology, geography, fingerprinting, and psychology, but especially in mathematics, the first indication of devotion to a subject fundamental to his lifetime contributions in statistics and heredity. He received an ordinary degree at Cambridge and did not apply for honors.

After graduation, and finding himself in comfortable circumstances, Galton was free to pursue scientific interests, wherever they led. He first achieved a reputation as an explorer and geographer, taking an ambitious voyage into southwest equatorial Africa through uncharted country largely unknown to the civilized world.