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Sir Francis Galton -- Data for 'Noteworthy Families'

University College London Special Collections


As part of Sir Francis Galton's studies into whether genius was hereditary, he collected data about families with 'noteworthy' members. Galton selected people with entries in Who's Who and sent them questionaires about their families and the occurence of people with 'high ability' in them. If you have relatives who you know to have been in Who's Who around 1904, then you may find more biographical details about their near relatives here.

Detailed usage description

Sir Francis Galton was a pioneer researcher into the role that heredity plays in human development and society. He had a particular interest in the way that genius, or high ability, was inherited in families. This collection contains the data he collected for his published book Noteworthy Families (John Murray, 1906) and for a second volume that was never published. Galton's method was to identify high acheivers in Who's Who (a high acheiver being someone who has a 'rank not inferior to that which the Fellowship of the Royal Society holds among men of science') and send them questionaires asking them to list their near relatives, and give biographical details of those relatives who had also acheived high rank.

If you have a relative who you know to have been in Who's Who around 1905, then you may be able to find limited information about their near family (Galton asked for very little detail about their low acheiving relatives) and in some cases extensive biographical details about their noteworthy relatives.

How to tell if the collection is useful

You may email a query to the , stating the name of the relative that you know to have featured in Who's Who. The archivist will inform you whether your relative is included in the data, and if so how much data is included. You will need to view the data in person.

If you plan to email the archivist with a query we suggest that you read our tutorial on how to do this most effectively.

Access arrangements

Access to UCL Special Collections is open to all, but you need to book an appointment. Details on how to do so are on the UCL Special Collections website.

More Information

The catalogue numbers are Galton 133/2 and 133/8. There is a collection level description on AIM25 and the collection is also described on the UCL Special Collections website.

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Abstracting information

Usage Themes Geographic area covered Size of collection Dates
  • Family history
  • Contextualising information


The two collections contain data about several hundred people.

1904 -- 1906


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