Charlotte Fowler Wells

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Charlotte Fowler Wells
CHARLOTTE FOWLER WELLS A woman of the century (page 768 crop).jpg
BornCharlotte Fowler
August 14, 1814
Cohocton, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 4, 1901(1901-06-04) (aged 86)
West Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
Resting place Rosedale Cemetery
Alma materFranklin Academy
Genre Pseudoscience
Subject Phrenology
Spouse Samuel Roberts Wells
Relatives Orson Squire Fowler (brother), Lorenzo Niles Fowler (brother), Lydia Folger Fowler (sister-in-law)

Charlotte Fowler Wells (August 14, 1814 – June 4, 1901) was an American phrenologist and publisher from New York. Along with her brothers, Orson Squire Fowler and Lorenzo Niles Fowler, her sister-in-law, Lydia Folger Fowler, and her husband, Samuel Roberts Wells, she was an early American popularizer of phrenology. Wells founded Fowler & Wells Company, published the American Phrenological Journal , and taught the first class in phrenology in the United States. She died at her home in New Jersey in 1901.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

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Orson Squire Fowler American phrenologist and lecturer

Orson Squire Fowler was a phrenologist and lecturer. He also popularized the octagon house in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Lydia Folger Fowler American-born British physician

Lydia Folger Fowler was a pioneering American physician, professor of medicine, and activist. She was the first American woman to earn a medical degree and one of the first women in medicine and a prominent women in science.


Early years and education

Charlotte Fowler was born in Cohocton, New York, August 14, 1814. She was the fourth in a family of eight children. Her father, Horace Fowler, was a deacon and judge. [1] Her mother, Martha Howe, was an intellectual, who died when Wells was five years old, but her teachings left a lasting impression upon the daughter. Wells received most of her education in the district school, with only two winters of three months each of instruction in the Franklin Academy in Prattsburgh, New York, beginning in autumn 1831. [2] She was otherwise self-taught, with a wide range of reading. Her older brothers, Orson and Lorenzo, were among the first to examine and believe the doctrines of Franz Joseph Gall and Johann Spurzheim. The increasing interest in the science of phrenology was greatly the result of the brothers' lifelong work. [3]

Cohocton, New York Town in New York, United States

Cohocton is a town in Steuben County, New York, United States. The population was 2,626 at the 2000 census. The name might be the native term for "log in the water."The town contains a village, also called Cohocton and is in the northwest part of the county.

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Prattsburgh, New York Town in New York, United States

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Wells studied and became interested in Spurzheim's works, teaching the first class in phrenology in the United States, and thereafter, her life was devoted to promoting it. Urged by her brothers, she closed her school in 1837, and joined them in New York City in the family-run business of O.S. & L.N. Fowler, a lecture bureau, museum, and publishing house, [4] where she served as proofreader, writer, business manager, and editor. [1] She also maintained the organization's cabinet and was also instrumental in keeping the permanent offices from being abandoned. [5] When Orson was in the field lecturing, and Lorenzo was establishing a branch in London, England, she had charge of the business in New York, and was considered instrumental in its success. [3]

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom, as well as the largest city within the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Samuel Roberts Wells (1820–1875) was studying to be a doctor when he attended a course of lectures delivered by the Fowler brothers in Boston. He was impressed with the theme and resolved to investigate it, his first ideas of phrenology having been obtained as a boy from a chart which had been marked by Charlotte Fowler, then in her teens. In 1843, [4] he joined the Fowler brothers's institute, and in the following year, he formed a co-partnership with the Fowler brothers, at their Nassau Street, New York office, the name having been changed to Fowler & Wells. Wells organized the book business and gave a new impetus to the Phrenological Journal. [1] On October 13, 1844, Charlotte and Samuel were married. [1]

Boston Capital city of Massachusetts, United States

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 694,583 in 2018, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.

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The Wells worked together for 31 years. For long periods of time, she was left with the control of the entire business, while her husband and brothers were traveling through countries, spreading the science and items for their cabinet. After Lorenzo moved to England in 1855, the firm's ownership passed to the Wells. [1] After the husband's death in 1875, she became the sole proprietor and manager for nine years. [3] [1] In 1884, she formed a stock company, Fowler & Wells Company, of which she was president, [3] and published the American Phrenological Journal. [1] She also served as vice-president and one of the instructors of the American Institute of Phrenology. In addition, in 1863, she was one of the founders, and served as a trustee of the New York Medical College for Women. [3]

Fowler & Wells Company American publishing company

Fowler & Wells Company was a 19th-century American publishing house, based in New York City. The business was classified as phrenologists and publishers, but it was also a scientific and educational institution. The company was established in 1835 by the brothers Orson Squire Fowler and Lorenzo Niles Fowler. Samuel Roberts Wells joined the company in 1843, and he subsequently married Charlotte Fowler, a sister of the Fowler brothers. Eventually, the Fowler brothers left the company, and Mr. Wells died. In 1884, Mrs. Wells incorporated the company, and became its president.

Personal life

Wells believed in spiritualism. [6] From 1884, she made her home in West Orange, New Jersey where she died June 4, 1901, due to degeneration of the heart. Wells was buried at Rosedale Cemetery, in Orange, New Jersey. [1] Her papers are held by the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections of Cornell University Library. [7]

Spiritualism religious movement based on the belief that one can communicate with the spirits of the dead

Spiritualism is a religious movement based on the belief that the spirits of the dead exist and have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living. The afterlife, or the "spirit world", is seen by spiritualists, not as a static place, but as one in which spirits continue to evolve. These two beliefs—that contact with spirits is possible, and that spirits are more advanced than humans—lead spiritualists to a third belief: that spirits are capable of providing useful knowledge about moral and ethical issues, as well as about the nature of God. Some spiritualists will speak of a concept which they refer to as "spirit guides"—specific spirits, often contacted, who are relied upon for spiritual guidance. Spiritism, a branch of spiritualism developed by Allan Kardec and today practiced mostly in Continental Europe and Latin America, especially in Brazil, emphasizes reincarnation.

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West Orange is a suburban township in central Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 46,207, reflecting an increase of 1,264 (+2.8%) from the 44,943 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 5,840 (+14.9%) from the 39,103 counted in the 1990 Census.

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Selected works

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Burstyn & Women's Project of New Jersey 1996, p. 207.
  2. Fowler & Wells 1895, p. 145.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Willard & Livermore 1893, p. 758.
  4. 1 2 Ogilvie & Harvey 2003, p. 660.
  5. Fowler & Wells 1887, p. 315.
  6. James, James & Boyer 1971, p. 561.
  7. "Guide to the Fowler And Wells Families Papers, 1807–1968,1836–1901(bulk)". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 8 May 2017.