Have you ever been driving through Colorado, or even looking at a map, and hit upon a location that made you think, "Huh, I wonder how that place got its name"? Colorado has a rich array of place names drawn from several languages, cultures, and aspects of history, and there are some great resources out there for learning what put the cripple in Cripple Creek or who came up with a name like Mount Sneffels.
William Henry Jackson is one of the American West’s best-known photographers, and History Colorado is fortunate to hold a large portion of his photographic oeuvre as well as a manuscript collection (MSS #341) containing correspondence, diaries, and other records of Jackson’s remarkable life. One of the more unusual items in our Jackson manuscript collection is a full report of a phrenological examination performed on Jackson when he was 18 years old by “Professor” O.S. Fowler. The pseudoscience of phrenology was popular in the 19th century and posited that the size and shape of a person’s head revealed information about that individual’s personality, character, and capabilities. While the practice has been thoroughly debunked, Fowler at least seems to have hit on something when he described Jackson’s capacity for artistic genius.