Karl Sudhoff

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Karl Sudhoff

Karl Friedrich Jakob Sudhoff (born November 26, 1853 in Frankfurt am Main ; † October 8, 1938 in Salzwedel ) was a German doctor and the most important medical historian of his time. His institute in Leipzig was the world's first institute for the discipline.


Karl Sudhoff's grave at the Südfriedhof in Leipzig

Karl Sudhoff, son of the theologian Karl Jakob Sudhoff (1820–1865), attended grammar schools in Frankfurt and Zweibrücken as well as the Royal Prussian grammar school in Bad Kreuznach (today grammar school on the city wall ), whose boarding school then accepted many children of Protestant citizens from a wide area. There he passed the Abitur in 1871 and then studied medicine in Tübingen , Erlangen and Berlin until 1876 ; the doctorate took place in Erlangen in 1875. There he had also joined the Christian student union Uttenruthia in the Schwarzburgbund in the winter semester of 1871/72 . After years of assistance in Augsburg and Vienna , he began his work as a general practitioner in Bergen near Frankfurt in 1878 , and he also worked for a short time as a poor doctor in the Lower Berg community of Millrath (today in Erkrath ). From 1883 to 1905 he was a metallurgical doctor at the Hochdahler Eisenhütte . There he was awarded the Prussian title of medical councilor . From 1894 he was also active in the local council.

He has been its chairman since the German Society for the History of Medicine and Natural Sciences was founded in 1901.

In 1904 Sudhoff was appointed extraordinary professor of medical history at the Medical Academy in Düsseldorf . In the following year he was appointed professor for the history of medicine at the University of Leipzig (honorary professor since 1913) and then became the holder of the chair for the history of medicine at the same location , founded by the widow Theodor Puschmann . On April 1, 1906, the Institute for the History of Medicine and Natural Sciences, which has borne his name since 1938, was the first medical history institute in the world to open. From 1919 (until his retirement in 1925) he was full professor . His faculty elected him dean for 1922/23.

Politically, he cultivated a German national stance which, at the age of 80, moved him to join the NSDAP on May 1, 1933 . He died shortly before the age of 85 while visiting his son Walther Sudhoff, who was chief physician at the Salzwedel district hospital from 1924 to 1946 .

Honors and nominations

Special postcard (postal stationery) for the 50th anniversary of Karl Sudhoff's death in 1988 with an image of a commemorative medal
  • In 1926 Sudhoff was elected a member of the Leopoldina .
  • In 1925 the German Society for the History of Medicine and Natural Sciences donated the Karl Sudhoff Medal for outstanding scientific achievements in the field of the history of medicine, natural sciences and technology.
  • At the Karl Sudhoff Institute for the History of Medicine and Natural Sciences at the University of Leipzig there is an extensive medical history collection that is publicly accessible after registration. In 1981 the GDR Post issued five special postage stamps with a face value of 10, 20, 25, 35, 50 and 85 pfennigs with motifs from their holdings for this collection (Michel no. 2640-2645).

Research priorities

Sudhoff is best known for his studies of medieval medical manuscripts . He was the editor of the Paracelsus edition, which is still authoritative today . Sudhoff put on extensive medical history collections and had an extraordinarily large private library . In his contributions to the history of surgery in the Middle Ages , Sudhoff was the first medical historian to use a text-historical working method, thereby laying the foundation for later specialist prose research and enabling new perspectives on medieval surgery.




  • A contribution to the bibliography of the Paracelsists in the 16th century. In: Central Journal for Libraries. Volume 10, 1893, pp. 316-325 ( online ).
  • Bibliographica Paracelsica. Berlin 1894-1899.
  • Iatromathematics, mainly in the 15th and 16th centuries. Breslau 1902 (= Treatises on the history of medicine. Volume 11).
  • Introduction to the history of medicine: Iatromechanics primarily in the 15th and 16th centuries. Wroclaw 1902.
  • Tradition and observation of nature in the illustrations of medical manuscripts and early prints, primarily from the 15th century. Leipzig 1907 (= studies on the history of medicine. Volume 1).
    • The urinary glass pane in the 15th century. In: Tradition and observations of nature in the illustrations of medical manuscripts and early prints. Leipzig 1907 (= Studies on the History of Medicine. Volume 1), pp. 13-18.
  • The healing properties of the Magdalen balm. A single sheet print from the last years of the 15th century. In: Sudhoff's archive. Volume 1, 1908, pp. 388-390.
  • German medical incunabula. Bibliographical and literary studies. Leipzig 1908 (= studies on the history of medicine. Issue 2/3).
  • Medical information from Greek papyrus documents. Building blocks for a medical cultural history of Hellenism. Leipzig 1909 (= studies on the history of medicine , 5).
  • From the ancient bathing world. Berlin 1910.
  • As editor: Classics of Medicine. Publisher by Johann Ambrosius Barth, Leipzig 1910 ff.
  • Plague writings from the first 150 years after the epidemic of the "black death" 1348, No. 24, John of Tornamira, Praeservatio et cura apostematum antrosorum pestilentialium '. In: (Sudhoffs) archive. Volume 5, 1912, pp. 46-53.
  • From the early history of syphilis. Manuscript and incunabula studies, epidemiological investigation and critical walks. Leipzig 1912 (= studies on the history of medicine. Issue 9).
  • Contributions to the history of surgery in the Middle Ages. Graphic and textual examinations in medieval manuscripts. 2 volumes. Leipzig 1914–1918 (= studies on the history of medicine. Issues 10 and 11/12).
  • Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum. In: Sudhoff's archive. Volume 7, 1914, pp. 360-362; Volume 8, 1915, p. 292 f. and 352-373; Volume 9, 1916, pp. 221-249; Volume 10, 1917, pp. 91-101; Volume 12, 1920, pp. 149-180.
  • The Fragmenta Emmeranensia of Pseudo-Apuleius and the Leiden collective code Cod. Voss. lat. Q. 9. In: Archives for the history of medicine. Volume 8, 1915, pp. 446-449.
  • The pseudo Hippocratic letter to Antiochus in a fragmentary German translation from the Middle Ages. In: Archives for the History of Medicine. Volume 8, 1915, pp. 293-295.
  • "Antipocras". Polemic pamphlet for mystical medicine in verses by Magister Nicholas of Poland. In: Sudhoff's archive. Volume 9, 1916, pp. 31-52.
  • Scenes from consultation hours and visits to the sick in medieval manuscripts. In: Archives for the History of Medicine. Volume 10, 1917, pp. 71-90 and 105-123.
  • Codex medicus Hertensis. In: Archives for the History of Medicine. Volume 10, 1917, pp. 265-313.
  • Sketches. Vogel, Leipzig 1921. (A collection of articles on various topics in the history of medicine, on medicine and art and on JW Goethe .)
  • History of dentistry. A guide for teaching and research. Leipzig 1921; 2nd edition, ibid. 1926; Reprint Hildesheim 1964.
  • With Theodor Meyer-Steineg : History of Medicine at a Glance with Illustrations. Jena 1921; 5th edition, entitled Illustrated History of Medicine , ed. and supplemented by Robert Herrlinger and Fridolf Kudlien , Stuttgart 1965; Reprint: Voltmedia, Paderborn 2006, ISBN 3-938478-56-X .
  • Brief manual of the history of medicine. Berlin 1922 (= 3rd and 4th edition of Julius Leopold Pagel's introduction to the history of medicine from 1898).
  • Theophrast of Hohenheim. Munich / Berlin 1922–1933.
  • As editor: The Fasciculus Medicinae of Johann de Ketham Alemannus. (= Monumenta medica. Volume 1 , edited by Henry E. Sigerist ). Lier, Milan 1923 (pp. 38–57: Historical introduction).
  • The earliest printed literature on syphilis. Florence 1925.
  • Kos and Knidos. Munich 1927.
  • Alexander Hispanus and the written work under his name. A first word about him and announcement of his medical writings. I-II. In: Sudhoff's archive. Volume 29, 1936/1937, pp. 289-312, and Volume 30, 1937/1938, pp. 1-25.


Web links

Wikisource: Karl Sudhoff  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Karl Sudhoff  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hermann Goebel (ed.): Directory of members of the Schwarzburgbund. 8th edition, Frankfurt am Main 1930, p. 139 No. 3193.
  2. Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Sudhoff, Karl. In: Encyclopedia of Medical History. Berlin 2005, p. 1366.
  3. ^ Member entry by Karl Sudhoff at the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , accessed on June 23, 2016.
  4. ^ Karl Sudhoff: A historical museum of medicine (1901). In: the same: sketches. Leipzig 1921, pp. 196-217.
  5. Eckart Roloff and Karin Henke-Wendt: First steps into a new subject: the history of medicine. In: Visit your doctor or pharmacist. A tour through Germany's museums for medicine and pharmacy. Verlag S. Hirzel, Stuttgart 2015, pp. 206-207, ISBN 978-3-7776-2510-2
  6. ^ Sabine Fahrenbach: The Medical Collection of the Karl Sudhoff Institute - a situation report. In: Würzburger medical history reports 24, 2005, pp. 282–292.
  7. ^ I. Kästner: On the fate of Karl Sudhoff's Paracelsus library. In: Sudhoff's archive. Volume 79, 1995, pp. 115-119.
  8. ^ Karl Sudhoff: Contributions to the history of surgery in the Middle Ages. 2 volumes, Leipzig 1914/1918 (= studies on the history of medicine, 10/12)
  9. Gundolf Keil: Sudhoff's view of the German medical Middle Ages. In: News sheet of the German Society for the History of Medicine, Science and Technology. Volume 31, 1981, pp. 94-129.
  10. Sönke Drewsen: What does the transcendental-gnoseological understanding of the philosophy of science do for medical theory and medical history? In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 8, 1990, pp. 33-40, here: p. 37 f.