Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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POWELL, William Byrd, physician, born in Bourbon county, Kentucky, 8 January, 1799; died in Henderson, Kentucky, 3 July, 1867. He was graduated at Transylvania university in 1820, and at the medical department there in 1823, devoted himself to the study of the physiology of tile brain, and prosecuted his investigations among the Indian tribes, professing to read the temperament from an examination of the cranium alone. He became professor of chemistry in the Medical college of Louisiana in 1835, and in 1849 organized the Memphis medical institute, taking the chair of cerebral physiology. He was professor of a similar branch in the Cincinnati eclectic medical institute in 1856-'9, and lectured there two or three years. In 1865 he was chosen professor emeritus of cerebral physiology in the New York eclectic medical college, but he did not lecture in that institution. His collection of skulls numbered 500, and was probably the next in value and variety to that of Dr. Samuel G. Morton (q. v.). Dr. Powell professed to have discovered a measurement that indicated infallibly the vital force, and the signs of vital tenacity. He was a member of numerous domestic and foreign scientific societies, and a frequent contributor to professional literature. He published "Natural History of the Human Temperament " (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1856) ; and, with Dr. Robert S. Newton, "The Eclectic Practice of Medicine" (1857); and an" Eclectic Treatise on the Diseases of Children" (1857).
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