Paul Broca (1824-1880), French surgeon and anthropologist, was born at Sainte-Foy la Grande, Gironde, on the 28th of June 1824. He early developed a taste for higher mathematics, but circumstances decided him in adopting medicine as his profession. Beginning his studies at Paris in 1841, he made rapid progress, becoming house-surgeon in 1844, assistant anatomical lecturer in 1846, and three years later professor of surgical anatomy. He had already gained a reputation by his pathological researches. In 1853 he was named fellow of the Faculty of Medicine, and in 1867 became member of the Academy of Medicine and professor of surgical pathology to the Faculty. During the years occupied in winning his way to the head of his profession he had published treatises of much value on cancer, aneurism and other subjects. It was in 1861 that he announced his discovery of the seat of articulate speech in the left side of the frontal region of the brain, since known as the convolution of Broca. But famous as he was as a surgeon, his name is associated most closely with the modern school of anthropology. Establishing the Anthropological Society of Paris in 1859, of which he was secretary till his death, he was practically the inventor of the modern science of craniology.
He rendered distinguished service in the Franco-German War, and during the Commune by his organization and administration of the public hospitals. He founded La Revue d'Anthropologie in 1872, and it was in its pages that the larger portion of his writings appeared. In his last years Broca turned from his labours in the region of craniology to the exclusive study of the brain, in which his greatest triumphs were achieved (see Aphasia). He was decorated with the Legion of Honour in 1868, and was honorary fellow of the leading anatomical, biological and anthropological societies of the world. He died on the 9th of July 1880. A statue of him by Choppin was erected in 1887 in front of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris.