S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Shrubsall, Dr Frank Charles (physical anthropology, human anatomy)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: 25 September 1935, London, England.

Frank C. Shrubsall was educated at Clare College, Cambridge; St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London; and at Basle, Switzerland. He qualified as Master of Arts (MA), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) of London, Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) of England, and Doctor of Medicine (MD). The latter qualification was obtained at Cambridge. For some time he was resident officer of the Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest at Brompton, London, where he was still employed by 1905. Later he became Senior Medical Officer of the London County Council, and consultant and lecturer in mental deficiency at Maudsley Hospital, London. His publications included "A comparison of the physical characteristics of hospital patients with those of healthy individuals from the same area" (Occassional Papers of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1905), a pamphlet on The examination of mentally defective children (1911, 11p), and his main work, with A.C. Williams, Mental deficiency practice... (London, 1932, 532p).

From 1897 or earlier Shrubsall conducted research on the craniology of various peoples and published "Crania from Teneriffe" (Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 1898) and "Notes on Ashanti skulls and crania" (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1898). His work included pioneering studies of the South African San (Bushmen). Being the first to use large samples where possible, his work was probably the most important contribution to the craniology of the San published in English around the turn of the century. The results were reported in several papers: "Crania of African Bush races" (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1898); "A study of Bantu skulls and crania" (ibid, 1898); Notes on some Bushman crania from the South African Museum" (Annals of the South African Museum, 1907, Vol. 5(5), pp. 227-270); "A note on craniology of South African Bushmen" (in L. Péringuey's* "The stone ages of South Africa...", ibid, 1911, Vol. 8, pp. 202-208); and "A note on Bushman craniology" (Man, 1922). His 1907 paper was based on the study of some 100 skulls. During the next few years the South African Museum supplied him with 62 more, plus a few complete skeletons, which had been dug up in various parts of the Cape Colony and the Kalahari. He found no difference between the skulls of the Khoi (Hottentots) and San, but reported in 1911 that the skulls of Strandlopers (San) from the southern Cape could be distinguished from the rest. In two other papers (Geographical Journal, 1909, and Man, 1909) he described two crania and some long bones recovered from ancient ruins in Zimbabwe.

Shrubsall became a life member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1904 and the next year served on its committee on anthropometric investigation in the British Isles. He served as president of Section H (Anthropology) in 1924.

List of sources:
British Association for the Advancement of Science. Report of the seventy-fifth meeting... South Africa, 1905.

Hubbard, P. A bibliography of Zimbabwean archaeology to 2005, Version 1.0, January 2007. (Electronic document, received from author).

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

Strkalj, G. Inventing races: Robert Broom's research on the Khoisan. Annals of the Transvaal Museum, 2000, Vol. 37, pp. 113-124.

Tobias, P.V. History of physical anthropology in South Africa. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 1985, Vol. 28, pp. 1-52.

Union of South Africa. Report of the South African Museum, 1910, 1911, 1912.

Who was who, Vol. 3, 2nd ed. London: Adam & Black, 1967.

Compiled by: C. Plug