An exhibition of material from UCL Library Services Special Collections, with additional items on loan from UCL Museums & Collections, March-December 2011. Opened by Sir Mark Walport on 7 April 2011.
This exhibition in the Main Library was part of a Galton Centenary programme taking place at UCL to mark the anniversary of Sir Francis Galton's death in January 1911. Deposited at UCL by his executors, Special Collections holds papers and correspondence relating to Galton's personal history, family and scientific work, while Museums & Collections holds his scientific instruments and other personal memorabilia.
Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, was a significant figure in his own right as his knighthood, fellowship of the Royal Society and other distinctions attest. His contributions to understanding of weather systems, fingerprinting, statistical methods and genetics are as relevant today as they were in his lifetime. Providing a window onto his private life as well as a sample of his many and diverse interests and investigations, items on display in this exhibition ranged from family mementos and evidence of Galton as a child prodigy, to the records and output of his research and enduring fascination with measurement.
Alongside the exhibition, the manuscript fragment of Sir Francis Galton's unpublished utopian novel The Eugenic College of Kantsaywhere (c.1910), was digitised and made available online together with letters about its suitability for publication. The novel is presented as 'Extracts from the Journal of the late Professor I. Donoghue'. Donoghue, from Dunno Weir, is a professor of vital statistics who arrives in Kantsaywhere and submits to a series of examinations for a eugenics degree in order to be eligible to marry the object of his affections, Miss Allfancy. After Galton's death, this single remaining copy was bowdlerised by his niece Milly who "destroyed all the story, all poor Miss Augusta, the Nonnyson anecdotes, and in fact everything not to the point". What remained was passed to Galton's biographer, Professor Karl Pearson. Writer and broadcaster Dr Matthew Sweet has provided an introduction to the novel, setting it in its contemporary contexts.
Excerpt from talk entitled "Ideas Man: The Stranger Notions of Sir Francis Galton" given by Dan Maier on 7th June 2011
Filmmaker: Tom Guerrier