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Chronology of Blumenbach’s life 

1752

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach is born on May 11th into a prosperous family in Gotha. His  parents are Heinrich Blumenbach, professor at the local grammar school and Charlotte, née Buddeus, daughter of the Vice-Chancellor to the Ducal Court of Sachsen-Gotha. Blumenbach had a sister (Charlotte Sophie Henriette, died 1802) and a brother (Friedrich Wilhelm Carl Ernst, died 1806).

 

1759-1769

Blumenbach attends the grammar school (Gymnasium illustre) in Gotha.

 

1769-1772

Studies medicine at the University of Jena. 

 

1772

From October 15: Continues study of medicine at Göttingen University, named “Georgia Augusta” after its founder, King George II of England.

 

1775

September 18: Blumenbach receives the degree of Dr. med. with a dissertation De generis humani varietate nativa.

 

1776

February 24: Awarded the status of professor extraordinarius and made prosector of the anatomical institute and subcurator of the Academic Museum (by decree of George III, Febr. 9.).

 

1778

Appointed full professor (ordinarius) (by decree of George III, Nov. 13).

 

1779

First edition of the Handbuch der Naturgeschichte which went through twelve editions and was translated into six languages.

  

October 19: Blumenbach marries Louise Amalie Brandes (1752–1837), daughter of Georg Friedrich Brandes, head administrator of the University; Louise Amalie is sister-in-law of Christian Gottlob Heyne, the influential Göttingen librarian and classicist. Blumenbach and his wife had four children: Georg Heinrich Wilhelm (1780–1855), since 1818 married to Helene Ludovike Friederike Henriette, née Cleve (1797–1875); Emma Marie Hedwig (1783–1819), since 1807 married to Carl Wilhelm Friedrich Theodor von Jasmund (1782–1847); Charlotte Friederike Adelheid (Adele) (1787–1837); Carl Ludwig Edmund (1788–1814), Lieutnant in the "King’s German Legion" ("Königlich Deutsche Legion"), killed in action in the Battle of Toulouse). 

 

1781

First edition of Über den Bildungstrieb.

 

1783

April 25 to October 11: Journey to Switzerland via Weimar (first meeting with Goethe), Jena, Nürnberg a.o.; meeting with Gottlieb Emanuel von Haller in Bern, and Charles Bonnet and Guillaume-Antoine Deluc (Jean-André Deluc’s brother) in Geneva.

 

1784

Elected a fellow of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen.

 

1785

Elected a fellow of the Académie royale des sciences in Paris.

 

1786

Geschichte und Beschreibung der Knochen des menschlichen Körpers (2nd edition 1807).

 

1787

Institutiones physiologicae (4th edition 1821; various translations).

 

1788

Receives the title of Royal British Councillor.

   
Blumenbach’s paper Über die Nutritionskraft is awarded a shared price by the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.

 

1789

Second edition of Über den Bildungstrieb, mentioned favourably by Immanuel Kant in his Critik der Urtheilskraft (1790).

 

1790

First Decas collectionis suae craniorum diversarum gentium published (five further Decades and Nova pentas follow until 1827).  

 
Part I of Beyträge zur Naturgeschichte.

    

1791

Third edition of Über den Bildungstrieb.

 

Nov. 1791-April 1792

At the invitation of Sir Joseph Banks and King George III, Blumenbach travels (via the Netherlands) to England and stays for several months in London. He opens some mummies from the collection of the British Museum and meets with various members from the Royal Society.

1793

Made a Fellow of the Royal Society in London.

 

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
by J. W. Kobolt, 1793

(signature: “J. W. Kobolt pinx. Casselis 1793. Laurens sc. Berolini 1804”)  

1795

Third, much extended edition of his original dissertation De generis humani varietate nativa (dedicated to Joseph Banks).

 

1796

Visits Goethe in Weimar and Schiller in Jena.

 

1798

Made a member of the American Philosophical Society.

 

1801

Goethe visits Blumenbach in Göttingen.

 

1802

Return visit to Goethe in Weimar.

 

1806

Second edition of part I of Beyträge zur Naturgeschichte with important additions.

 

1807-1813

Göttingen is part of the Napoleonic satellite kingdom of Westphalia.

 

1807

September 20: The Göttingen delegates Georg Friedrich von Martens and Blumenbach are received in audience by Napoleon in Paris; Blumenbach meets Georges Cuvier, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Alexandre Brongniart und Bernard de La Cépède (Lacépède).

 

1808

Made a foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Science.

 

1811

Part II of Beyträge zur Naturgeschichte.

  

1812

Death of Heyne; Blumenbach succeeds him as director of the Academic Museum and from 1814 as permanent secretary of the Göttingen Academy (1813 already permanent secretary of the Academy’s physical-mathematical class). Receives the title “Ritter der Westphälischen Krone” (Knight of the Crown of Westphalia).

 

1813

October 30: Deputy of the University to Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, (later King Karl XIV of Sweden) in Heiligenstadt, headquarters of the northern army of the anti-Napoleonic coalition.

 

1814

Made a foreign member of the Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien in Stockholm.

 

1815

Receives the title of “Ritter (Knight) of the newly created “Guelphen-Orden” of the Kingdom of Hanover.

 

1816

Professor primarius of the faculty of Medicine; receives the title of privy councillor ("Ober-Medicinalrath mit Geheimen Justizraths Rang", GGA 1816, p. 2081).

 

 

1818

With Blumenbach as dean, the number of medical doctorates granted at Göttingen reaches a peak.

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
Etching by L. E. Grimm
, 1823

 

1820

Visits Goethe in Weimar.

 

1821

Made Commander of the “Guelphen-Orden”.

 

1824

In recognition of his services to Göttingen, the city grants Blumenbach exemption from all communal taxes for twenty years.
   

In the 3rd edition of his Handbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie Blumenbach corroborates the existence of the intermaxillary bone (os intermaxillare) in humans, discovered by Goethe.

1825

September 18: Golden jubilee of Blumenbach’s doctoral degree, commemorated with a medal and the endowment of a stipendium blumenbachianum.

 

Blumenbach-medal of 1825, designed by G. B. Loos (1773–1843) in Berlin
Circumscriptions:
(obverse) I. Fr. Blumenbach nato Gothae d. 11. Maii 1752 doct. creato Gottingae d. 19. Sept. 1775
(reverse) Naturae interpreti ossa loqui iubenti physiosophili Germanici d. 19. Sept. 1825.

1826

Golden jubilee of Blumenbach’s appointment to a professorship at Göttingen University.

 

Made an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg (together with, a.o. Goethe).

 

1829

Receives the title of “Ritter des Königlich Baierischen Civil-Verdienst-Ordens".

 

1830

Made a member of the Accademia delle scienze in Bologna.

   
Appointed Associé étranger de l'Académie des sciences, Paris.

 

1836-1837

Winter term: Blumenbach gives his lecture on natural history for the last (118th) time.

 

1837

Appointed knight of the French “Légion d’honneur” (together with his Göttingen colleagues Carl Friedrich Gauß and Arnold Heeren).

   

On the occasion of his participation in the university’s centenary, the King of Hanover visits Blumenbach at his home.

 

1840

Blumenbach dies on January 22. 

 

 

Blumenbach's signature (from a letter to Jakob Grimm, 23th June 1810)

 

 

Blumenbach's gravestone in the Albani grave yard (now Cheltenham Park) in Göttingen
Inscription:
H[ier] R[uht] J[n] G[ott]
Joh. Fried. Blumenbach
Obermedicinalrath
Dr. und Professor
der Arzneikunde
zu Göttingen
geb. Gotha d. 11. Mai 1752
gest. Goettingen d. 22. Jan. 1840