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Keywords:

  • biological theories of crime;
  • eugenics;
  • history of anthropology;
  • history of criminology;
  • Earnest A. Hooton;
  • racism;
  • William H. Sheldon;
  • Sheldon and Eleanor T. Glueck

Biological explanations shaped criminology at its inception, and today they are reemerging with fresh vigor and increased potential. But many criminologists do not understand how biological theories developed, what they contributed to criminology generally and where they went astray. This paper focuses on the work of Earnest A. Hooton, whose criminological studies, published in 1939, met with decidedly mixed reviews but were nonetheless discussed for decades in criminological textbooks. Information about a now half-forgotten and misunderstood figure like Hooton, in addition to being useful in and of itself, contributes to the history of criminology as a discipline—a project essential to the field's ultimate maturity. It helps build a history of criminological knowledge.