Medical history

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Medical history , also known as the history of medicine and medical historiography , is the name given to the branch of historical science or medicine that researches the history of medicine .

Beginnings of medical history

The medical historiography of antiquity continued in the 4th century BC. A. In the 2nd half of the 4th century, the Aristotle student Menon wrote a ( doxographic ) account of the development of medicine, from which excerpts from the 1st or 2nd century AD have been handed down in the script called Anonymus Londinensis . A first overview of the history of Greek medicine from its mythical beginnings up to the century AD offers the preface to the medical part of the encyclopedia of the Roman Aulus Cornelius Celsus from around 30 AD .

Development of medical history in Germany

Medical history has a long tradition within medicine in Germany. Since the ancient texts of the Corpus Hippocraticum (attributed to the famous doctor Hippocrates of Kos ) and of Galenus of Pergamon were read in medical teaching well into the 19th century , dealing with the past of medicine was a matter of course. The focus was thereby not historiography in today's sense, but the assignment of diagnoses and therapies to historical authorities in medicine. In the course of the Enlightenment , an awareness of the general progress in medicine established itself in the medical historical view . The first extensive medical history publications appeared at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. Towards the end of the 19th century, some medical school scientists and practicing physicians specialized in dealing with their history. As represented in Berlin by Justus Hecker (1795–1850), there were a few chairs for the subject.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the history of medicine gained greater importance thanks to the services of Karl Sudhoff and established itself as an independent subject in the medical faculties. The specialist journal led by the same ( Archive for the History of Medicine since 1907, later called Sudhoffs Archive ) supported the conception of medical history as an independent discipline between historical science and medicine. Especially the hippocratism of the 1920s, in which one relied heavily on an exaggerated figure of Hippocrates in order to solve current problems in medicine, led to a stable institutionalization of medical history.

German medical history suffered a great loss of quality and leadership personality during the Nazi era from 1933 to 1945, when the leading German medical historians emigrated to the USA (including Henry E. Sigerist , Owsei Temkin , Ludwig Edelstein , Erwin Heinz Ackerknecht ). The first textbook for the history of medicine was published in 1968 by Irina Winter and Alexander Mette. Medical history research in post-war Germany lacked substance and creativity until the 1970s, when it was stimulated anew by impulses from the historical methodological discussions.

In the past few years, individual medical history institutes in Germany have been closed, combined with medical ethics or largely displaced by them. There were only a few new foundations; against the trend, for example, the Institute for the History, Theory and Ethics of Medicine was established at Ulm University in 2008 (the first institute since 1987). The history of medicine is classified as a minor subject in German university policy . The Small Subjects Unit (now at the University of Mainz) provides an overview of all specialist locations.

Methodology of the history of medicine

The history of medicine is based, among other things, on text sources such as medical textbooks and tracts, case histories and medical files or also diaries, letters, literary texts and, especially more recently, on pictorial representations and historical objects and other material sources. The study of human remains and ancient pathogens does not fall within the field of medical history, but paleopathology .

As in the history of science as a whole, an outdated approach is the history of progress, which selectively searches for individual theories and practices in medicine of earlier times that have at least been held in a similar form to this day. Rather, the basic principle today is the recognition of various disease concepts and practices as part and mirror of the respective cultural context. In this way, past medical explanatory models and practices are not simply branded as "wrong" and measured against the system of our time, but the ways of thinking of other epochs are viewed in their own logic.

Retrospective diagnoses are a fundamental problem : some medical historians fundamentally refuse to identify diseases in historical times with diseases defined in the present, since contemporaries described and interpreted the complaints very differently than they do today. Other currents, however, consider such an approach, analogous to the transfer of sociological and cultural-scientific concepts of the present to historical facts, within narrow limits and for certain questions as meaningful and fruitful. See also paleopathology .

Since 1967, demands placed on the theoretical history of medicine to also take into account practical therapeutic action were taken into account from 1985, following Roy Porter's approaches, through increased research into patient histories, which brought the patient himself closer to the center of medical history.

Walter Artelt, Johannes Steudel and Gerhard Eis thought it would be ideal for medical historians to receive a double doctorate and complete a degree in the humanities in addition to medical training.


The history of medicine in Germany today is institutionally localized for the most part in the medical faculties and has a part in medical education . However, there are also non-university research institutions and institutions in other academic subjects in which medical history or certain aspects of medical history are dealt with. Medical historians from various disciplines are also recruiting. There are numerous doctors, but also philosophers, classical philologists, Arabists, historians and historians of science among them. Some medical historians also have dual qualifications.

Institutions and societies

Scientific medical historians are mostly active in university institutes for the history, theory and ethics of medicine, which are housed in the medical faculties, but also in the corresponding university institutes of the subjects mentioned. However, there are also a number of non-university research institutes. In addition, a number of learned societies have been founded with the aim of researching the history of the natural sciences in general and medicine in particular, and often carrying out the publication of scientific journals and publication series.

Awards for medical historians

The History of Science Society (HSS) , founded by George Sarton and Lawrence J. Henderson , has awarded the George Sarton Medal since 1955 for outstanding achievements in the field of the history of science. One of the first recipients was the German-American medical historian Owsei Temkin , who received the award in 1960. John Farquhar Fulton , Richard Harrison Shryock , Walter Pagel and Ronald Numbers were also awarded the renowned medal .

Further science-historical prizes for medical historians (selection):

  • Scultetus Prize (Scultetus Gesellschaft e.V., Ulm)
  • Sudhoff plaque from the German Society for the History of Medicine, Science and Technology
  • Leibniz Medal of the Prussian Academy of Sciences
  • Academy Prize of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences
  • Cothenius Medal
  • William Henry Welch Medal from the American Association for the History of Medicine
  • NTM article price for young authors

Museums for the history of medicine

An efficient means of conveying medical-historical contexts and research results to a larger audience are in particular museums with a natural science focus, some of which are exclusively specialized in the history of medicine in general, others in individual diseases, in certain specialist areas and in individual persons as well as in the hospital system.

See also


  • Paul Diepgen : History of Medicine. The historical development of medicine and medical life. Berlin / New York, Volume 1: 1949, Volume 2.1: 1951 ( From Enlightenment Medicine to the Founding of Cellular Pathology (approx. 1740 - approx. 1858). ), Volume 2.2: 1955.
  • Hans-Heinz Eulner, Gunter Mann, Gert Preiser , Rolf Winau , Otto Winkelmann (eds.): Medical history in our time. Festschrift Edith Heischkel-Artelt and Walter Artelt . Enke, Stuttgart 1971, ISBN 3-432-01698-0 .
  • Norbert Paul , Thomas Schlich (Hrsg.): Medical history. Tasks, problems, perspectives. 1998.
  • Wolfgang U. Eckart: History, theory and ethics of medicine. 7th, completely revised edition. Springer, 2013. ISBN 978-3-642-34971-3 .
  • Esther Fischer-Homberger : History of Medicine. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg / New York 1975; 2nd edition ibid 1977, ISBN 3-540-07225-X .
  • Heinrich Haeser : Textbook of the history of medicine. 3. Edition. Jena 1875–1882.
  • August Hirsch : Handbook of historical-geographical pathology. [The classic of global geographic medicine]. Volume 1: The general acute infectious diseases. Ferdinand Enke Verlag, 2nd completely new version, Stuttgart 1881.
    • Read online: [1] ; pdf download: [2]
  • August Hirsch : Handbook of historical-geographical pathology. [The classic of global geographic medicine]. Volume 3: The Organ Diseases. Ferdinand Enke Verlag, 2nd completely new version, Stuttgart 1886.
    • Read online: [3] ; pdf download: [4]
  • Werner Kümmel: History, State and Ethics: German Medical Historians 1933-1945 in the service of “national political education”. In: Andreas Frewer, Josef Neumann (Hrsg.): Medical history and medical technology. Controversies and justification approaches 1900–1950. Frankfurt am Main / New York 2001.
  • Max Neuburger & Julius Pagel (eds.): Handbook of the history of medicine. Volume 1: Antiquity and the Middle Ages (780 pages). Gustav Fischer Verlag, Jena 1902.
    • Read online: [5] ; pdf download: [6]
  • Max Neuburger & Julius Pagel (eds.): Handbook of the history of medicine. Volume 2: Modern Medicine (980 pages). Gustav Fischer Verlag, Jena 1903.
    • Read online: [7] ; pdf download: [8]
  • Max Neuburger & Julius Pagel (eds.): Handbook of the history of medicine. Volume 3: History of the individual disciplines (1168 pages). Gustav Fischer Verlag, Jena 1905.
    • Read online: [9] ; pdf download: [10]
  • Volker Roelcke : Medical history: institutionalization - subject areas, methods - theories - problem areas, tasks. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , pp. 951-956.
  • Karl Sudhoff : Short Handbook of the History of Medicine . [3. and 4th ed. by JL Pagels "Introduction to the History of Medicine" (1898)]. S. Karger, Berlin 1922.

Lexicons of the history of medicine

  • August Hirsch (Hrsg.): Biographical lexicon of the outstanding doctors of all times and peoples . (Ed. With E. Gurlt) 6 volumes, Urban & Schwarzenberg, Vienna and Leipzig 1884 to 1888 (unchanged reprint Mansfield und J; 2nd edition, reviewed and supplemented by Wilhelm Haberling , Franz Hübotter and Hermann Vierordt. 5 volumes and supplementary volume , Berlin and Vienna 1929–1935; unchanged edition Munich 1962).
  • Julius Pagel (ed.): Biographical lexicon of outstanding doctors of the nineteenth century . Urban & Schwarzenberg, Berlin and Vienna 1901; unchanged reprint Basel and Munich 1989.
  • Dietrich von Engelhardt (ed.): Biographical encyclopedia of German-speaking doctors. Munich 2002.
  • Isidor Fischer (ed.): Biographical lexicon of the outstanding doctors of the last fifty years . 2 volumes. Urban & Schwarzenberg, Berlin and Vienna 1932–1933; 2nd and 3rd, unchanged edition Munich and Berlin 1962; and Peter Voswinckel: Biographical Lexicon of the Outstanding Doctors of the Last Fifty Years. Volume III Supplements and Supplements. Abu-grain. Olms - Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Hildesheim 2002, ISBN 978-3487116594 (Vol. IV not yet published).
  • Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil, Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Encyclopedia of medical history. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2004 (2005), ISBN 3-11-015714-4 ; 2nd edition in three volumes in 2007.

History and bibliographies of the history of medicine as a science

  • Marcel H. Bickel : The textbooks and general accounts of the history of medicine 1696-2000. A contribution to medical historiography. Schwabe, Basel 2007, ISBN 978-3-7965-2246-8 .
  • Andreas Frewer, Volker Roelcke (ed.): The institutionalization of medical historiography. Lines of development from the 19th to the 20th century . Stuttgart 2001.
  • FH Garrison, LT Morton (Ed.): Morton's medical bibliography: an annotated check-list of texts illustrating the history of medicine. 5th edition. Aldershot: Scolar Pr. [Et al.], 1991.

Medical history in history didactics

Web links

Wiktionary: Medical history  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Medicine  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Jutta Kollesch , Diethard Nickel : Ancient healing art. Selected texts from the medical writings of the Greeks and Romans. Philipp Reclam jun., Leipzig 1979 (= Reclams Universal Library. Volume 771); 6th edition ibid 1989, ISBN 3-379-00411-1 , pp. 14-16, 40-42 and 183.
  2. ^ Wolfgang U. Eckart, Robert Jütte: Medizingeschichte. An introduction , Stuttgart 2007, p. 21ff
  3. ^ Daniel Leclerc: Histoire de la médicine. Geneva 1696.
  4. ^ John Freind : The history of physics from the time of Galen to the beginning of the 16th century. I-II, London 1725-1726.
  5. Alexander Mette, Irina Winter (ed.): History of medicine. Introduction to their basic features. Berlin 1968.
  6. Bernhard vom Brocke: The institutionalization of medical historiography in the context of the history of universities and science. In: Andreas Frewer, Volker Roelcke (Ed.): The institutionalization of medical historiography: lines of development from the 19th to the 20th century. Stuttgart, Steiner 2001, pp. 187–212, here: p. 191.
  7. ^ Page of the Small Subjects Unit about the specialist locations at German universities
  8. R. Joseph Petrucelli, Albert S. Lyons (ed.): The history of medicine in the mirror of art. Translated from English by Hans-Thomas Gosciniak and Herbert Graf, edited by Erich Püschel, Cologne 1980.
  9. ^ Erwin H. Ackerknecht: A plea for a "Behaviorist" approach in writing the history of medicine. In: Journal of the History of Medicine an Allied Sciences. Volume 22, 1967, pp. 211-214.
  10. ^ Roy Porter: The patient's view. Doing medical history from below. In: Theory and Society. Volume 14, 1985, pp. 175-198.
  11. Eberhard Wolff: Perspektiven der Patient Historschreib. In: Norbert Paul , Thomas Schlich (Hrsg.): Medical history: tasks, problems, perspectives. Frankfurt 1998, pp. 311-334.
  12. Michael Stolberg : Homo patiens. Body and disease experience in the early modern period. Weimar 2003.
  13. ^ Marion Maria Ruisinger : Healing with the knife. Surgical patients from Lorenz Heister's correspondence. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 25, 2006, pp. 63–73, here: p. 63.
  14. ^ Gundolf Keil to Klemens Dieckhöfer: Poetry and Medicine. On the personality structure, physical constitution in his poetic work and on the medical profession of the medical figures in Gerhart Hauptmann's works. Deutscher Wissenschafts-Verlag , Baden-Baden 2012 (= DWV-Schriften zur Medizingeschichte. Volume 13), ISBN 978-3-86888-051-9 (also Philosophical Dissertation Olomouc). In: Specialized prose research - Crossing borders. Volume 8/9, 2012/2013 (2014), pp. 571-575, here: pp. 571 f.
  15. Eckart Roloff and Karin Henke-Wendt: Visit your doctor or pharmacist. A tour through Germany's museums for medicine and pharmacy. Volume 1, Northern Germany, ISBN 978-3-7776-2510-2 , and Volume 2, Southern Germany, ISBN 978-3-7776-2511-9 , Verlag S. Hirzel, Stuttgart 2015.