City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Petrus Camper (1722-1789)
Petrus Camper (11 May 1722 – 7 April 1789), was a Dutch physician, anatomist, physiologist, midwife, zoologist, anthropologist, palaeontologist and a naturalist in the Age of Enlightenment. As one of the first he was interested in comparative anatomy, palaeontology, and the facial angle. He was among the first to mark out an "anthropology," which he distinguished from natural history. He studied the orangutan, the javan rhinoceros, and the skull of a mosasaur, which he believed was a whale. Camper was a celebrity in Europe and became a member of the Royal Society (1750), the Göttingen (1779), and Russian Academy of Sciences (1778), the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1783), the French (1786) and the Prussian Academy of Sciences (1788). He designed and constructed tools for his patients, and for surgeries. He was amateur-drawer, a sculptor, a patron of art and a conservative, royalist politician. Camper published some lectures containing an account of his craniometrical methods. These laid the foundation of all subsequent work.