Brues on American physical types

Based on data collected on a large sample of U.S. soldiers in the middle of the last century, Alice Brues sees six broad physical types in America:
[. . .] table 10 [. . .] lists certain very broad categories of physical type (derived quite empirically from the data of tables 6 and 7, without retrospect on any special system of racial classification.) Under each physical type are listed the regions and national extractions characterized by it.

The first type, a tall thin-faced dolichocephal, is typical of Old Americans and British and of the Old American stronghold in the southern states east of the Mississippi. The second type, which is distinguished from the first by greater width of the face and head, is typical of Scandinavian extraction and of the West North Central and to a lesser extend the Mountain and Pacific states.

The third type, diametrically opposite from the first, is short, relatively brachycephalic, and broad-faced. It characterizes Germanic, Russian and Slavic extractions and the Middle Atlantic and East North Central states; i.e., the industrial north exclusive of New England. The fourth type, not too clearly marked, differs from the third in that the head breadth and bizygomatic are not high; this type is small all over. It characterizes Gallic and Mediterranean strains and the New England area.

The fifth type is peculiar to the West South Central states, and is not parallelled by any of the European extractions. It is characterized by a strong inverse relation of head breadth and bizygomatic (which otherwise show a very general correlation) the face breadth being disproportionately high. A clue to this may be seen in the 4% frequency of Latin American extraction in this are, though this alone could hardly account for the approximate 2.5 mm excess of face breadth relative to head breadth. Since this area, which includes Texas and Oklahoma, is not only the principal point of Mexican immigration, but also the area in which maximum infiltration of Indian blood into the general population has undoubtedly taken place, it appears probable that the excessive face breadth is the result of a tangible mongoloid admixture.

The sixth type is really no type at all; it comprises the Irish, who happen to be very close to the general averages of the total American melange, as well as very randomly distributed regionally.


The study includes 3075 white enlisted men measured by the Chemical Warfare Service, representing all sections of the United States. Stature and eight head and face measurements have been correlated with states of birth and national extraction. Cephalic index, head length and breadth, and nose breadth, afford the clearest differentiation both for nationality of origin and for place of birth within the United States. Regional differences are less marked than those associated with national extraction, but are statistically considerable. Residence in the United Sates appears to have effected and increase in stature, at least in the shorter European stocks, with a corresponding slight decrease in cephalic index : certainty on this point is prevented by ignorance of selective factors in immigration. Differences in national extraction between different areas of the United States are found to be considerable, reflecting the historical sequence of migrations. The physical differences of the various regions appear to be primarily determined by the distribution of the various European stocks which settled them. Traces of aboriginal population are indicated in only one area.

American "types" with regions and nationalities in which they predominate
  1. Stature and head length high
    Head breadth and bizygomatic low
    South Atlantic
    East South Central
    Old American

  2. Stature high, head length average or high
    Head breadth and bizygomatic not low
    West North Central
  3. Stature and head length low
    Head breadth and bizygomatic high
    Middle Atlantic
    East North Central

  4. Stature and head length low
    Head breadth and bizygomatic not high
    New England

  5. Head breadth low, bizygomatic high
    West South Central
  6. No marked deviation from U.S. average
[Alice M. Brues. Regional differences in the physical characteristics of an american population. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 4:463-482, 1946.]
Based on Table 6, the "Germanic" group is intermediate between the British and Slavic in head length, head breadth, and bizygomatic. It's not obvious to me why Brues chose to include "Germanic" and Slavic in the same category. Considering "national extraction groups" individually:
the Slavic is most strongly differentiated from the total population [. . .] The significant differences are: plus in head breadth, bizygomatic, bigonial and nose breadth, and minus in head length.
After Slavic, the next most distinctive group is "Mediterranean, significantly less than average in stature and head length, and more than average in face length, nose length and nose breadth." Contra Boas:
The lowest cephalic index mean in the present series is 77.3 for Pure British. [. . .] The American "British" [. . .] appear to be fractionally more dolichocephalic than the British themselves. The highest cephalic index mean in the present series is 82.7 for Pure Slavic. [. . .] The general conclusion is nevertheless the same as in the case of the British group: the American "Slavics" are comparable to their European ancestors, with a suspicious tendency towards greater dolichocephaly, probably not more than one unit. [. . .] the difference appears to be that which might be expected from increase in height. It certainly appears that the European cephalic index differences, in the intermediate groups as well as in these two extremes, have been well preserved in their transplanted members, The long established position of the cephalic index as a critical and reasonably stable indicator of ancestry is well borne out by the present analysis. The probable decrease of the cephalic index in the presence of factors favoring greater physical size is small in relation to the hereditary differences.

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