The Psychograph was a phrenology machine invented and marketed by Henry C. Lavery in the early part of the 20th century. It was claimed the machine followed the principles of phrenology, which focused on the measurements of the head as a way to determine what character and mental skills a person possessed. It also, allegedly, discerned a subject’s aptitude in a number of mental abilities.
While living in Superior, Wisconsin, Lavery patented his first psychograph in 1905. He, along with Frank P. White, formed the Psychograph Company in 1929. The company created a psychograph that measured a person’s head at 32 different points. It used those measurements to ‘determine’ the person’s mental attributes ranging from “deficient” to “very superior.” The Psychograph Company was based in Minneapolis and ran until 1937.
The two men found some success. The equivalent of the those “guess your fortune machines,” psychographs were installed in various buildings such as theater lobbies or departments stores for novelty purposes. It’s not a surprise that people eventually became skeptical of these machines. By the late 1930s, the psychograph’s popularity and success dwindled and the machines were slowly removed from the public.