The normal has recently been the subject of critical examination. Theorists have challenged the assumption that the opposition normal vs abnormal is a stable one. Historians of sexuality, in turn, have suggested that the idea of the normal emerged only in the nineteenth century. But there has not to date been a detailed intellectual and cultural history of just how and where the idea emerged. This project will provide that by attending to the early history of medical statistics and bodily measurement, pointing to complications that surrounded uses of the term, and contradictions that have since attended its uptake.