On the occasion of the bicentenary of Louis Pasteur’s birth and of the first injection of insulin, Archives Portal Europe celebrates #medicalsciences and the medical profession with an online exhibition showcasing medical events and achievements from its network.
Our first stop in #medicalsciences history is NORWAY:
Our second stop in #medicalsciences history is TURKEY:
Our third stop is FRANCE
- Louis Pasteur’s will: A loving tribute to his wife
- The Pasteur Institute and the production of serums
- Charles Nicolle and the discovery of Thyphus transmission
- Notes and fragments of research in Claude Bernard‘s personal archival collection (1838-1895)
Our last stop is SERBIA:
The Establishment of the Norwegian Healthcare System
We start with the National Archives of Norway and the Establishment of the Norwegian Healthcare System in the 17th century.
For Centuries, while royals and the wealthier social strata had access to good levels of professional medical care, the vast majority of the population relied on the assistance provided by religious institutions, as a form of charitable service, or by popular healers.
In the early modern period, however, with the progressive establishment of more centralised forms of government in the whole Europe, new forms of public health assistance began to emerge.
The public healthcare system in Norway can be traced back to the 17th century, when King Christian IV appointed the first public doctor, Villads Nielsen Adamsen [Vilhadius Adamius] (ca.1564 – ca.1616) in Bergen, in July 1603.
The King nominated Adamsen as ordinario medico in Bergen, with the letter displayed below. This meant Adamsen would be paid from the public purse, as he was now allowed to dispose of some of the church’s income. Adamsen was the son of a Danish parish priest; he had studied in Padova, Rostock and Siena, focusing particularly on questions related to epidemics and public health.
In 1599 he arrived in Bergen, where he established himself and started medical practice. At
this time, Bergen was the most populous city in the Nordic region, with approx. 15,000 inhabitants served by only three doctors. In the year of Adamsen’s arrival, a plague broke out in the city. With the assistance of his collaborators, Adamsen helped and valiantly served Bergen’s citizens as the plague raged in the city for two years.
It is not certain whether Adamsen was the first doctor in the country to be paid as a public doctor, but he is certainly the one about whom historians know the most, and for this reason he is usually associated with the origin of the public healthcare system in Norway.
Treating Leprosy in Norway
Today’s stop on the #medicalsciences exhibition tour is dedicated to the achievements related to the treatment of a very contagious disease: Leprosy, which is still affecting many people in various parts of the World.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease (HD), is a long-term infection by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, that has been a part of human history for at least 3,500 years.
Leprosy has been often associated with degraded living conditions and lack of hygiene throughout the centuries. And for this reason, Leprosy also frequently came with a certain degree of moral judgement and its transmission was often attributed to hereditary factors, with many being estranged from society when suspected to be infected or, especially, when the disease manifested itself with painful and physical deformations.
In the 19th century, leprosy was discovered in some areas of the coast of Norway, in the western and northern parts of the country. Norwegian authorities tried to tackle the disease since its first cases appeared, with many physicians being quickly trained at the University of Oslo in 1816.
Leprosy soon became the focus of Norwegian medical science studies, with the city of Bergen playing a key role in international leprosy research during the 19th century. Thanks to a doctor in Bergen, Dr. Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1912), in 1873, the Mycobacterium leprae was identified as the main cause of the disease.
This discovery was a major achievement, as it proved that leprosy was an infectious disease caused by germs, and therefore unrelated to hereditary transmission or other miasmic origins.
Hansen’s discovery was the scientific breakthrough that paved the way for the understanding and the development of future treatments of the disease. In fact, despite the initial opposition and even some lack of recognition, this discovery had a vital impact in fighting the disease.
The Leprosy Registry provided Dr. Armauer Hansen with the necessary scientific data that enabled him to support his discovery, proving the importance of isolating patients in order to stop the infection from spreading. His discovery had a huge impact all around the world, helping also to reduce the stigma around those who were affected by leprosy.
Documents related to the discovery are preserved at The Leprosy Archives of Bergen.
You can browse all the search results about Leprosy and Dr. Armauer Hansen provided by many institutions in Europes on Archives Portal Europe, here.
The Admiral Bristol Nursing School
The Koç Üniversitesi Suna Kıraç Library in Turkey preserves the history of the Admiral Bristol Nursing School. The American Hospital Nursing School was established in Instanbul on 20 May 1920 as part of the American Hospital, and today is part of the Koç University Faculty of Nursing.
Founded by Admiral Mark Lambert Bristol, the American Hospital Nursing School created as part of the American Hospital began offering a two-and-a-half-year education program.
The school was established to meet the healthcare needs of Americans in the Near East as well as the need to fill the shortage of nurses in Turkey, providing health care to all regardless of their nationality or religion.
Since 1920 the school has gone through numerous institutional changes and different names. In 1957 the school was registered by the Ministry of Education with the name Admiral Bristol Nursing School, becoming a 4-years vocational high school education that was equivalent to the Nurse Health High School.
In 1976 the school changed first name to the Admiral Bristol Nursing High School and, then, in 1981 it became the Admiral Bristol Nursing Vocational High School. In 1995 was further transformed into a School of Health affiliated to Koç University. The education program of the School of Health was designed in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and followed international standards.
The collection preserved by the Koç University Library contains various documents related to the activities and history of the school, including many photos across time showing instances of the life and practices within the school.
The nursing education at the Admiral Bristol Nursing School
Inspired by the nursing practices carried out by Florence Nightingale based on knowledge and compassion for the patients, the Admiral Bristol Nursing School was the first nursing education established in Istanbul in 1920. As part of the American Hospital, the Nursing school had a ‘private teaching institution’ status and offered courses as caregiver.
The training period was initially two and half years, then it was increased to three years, becoming finally four years in 1957. In order for the diplomas to be approved by the Ministry of Education and Health, students at the Admiral Bristol Nursing School had to take additional courses at other state-affiliated Nursing schools until 1957.
The beginning of the training period was celebrated with the suggestive Candle Lighting ceremony, which commemorates Florence Nightingale’s nighttime aid to wounded soldiers by candlelight.
During the Candlelighting ceremony, the aspiring nurses receive the traditional nurses cap as a badge of honour, and then they light a candle as a symbol of the lamp that Nightingale famously carried while caring for soldiers in field hospitals.
As part of their education, nurses at the Admiral Bristol Nursing School would take classes, for instance, on Diet and nutrition or anatomy, and they would also participate in different activities such as Gymnastic, Volleyball, and Theatre.
The collection preserved by the Koç University Library contains many, beautiful photos showing instances of life, education and other activities carried out at the Admiral Bristol Nursing School across time. You can browse the full list of documents related to the Nursing School preserved at the Koç University Library on their website.
Louis Pasteur’s will: A loving tribute to his wife
Our content provider, the French National Archives holds the holographic testament of Louis Pasteur dated 25 August 1880 and registered by the notary Jean André Lindet on 22 October 1895.
The holographic testament, which was preserved until it was registered in the envelope enclosed in the ledger, is dated “Paris, 29 March 1877. Arbois, 25 August 1880” and contains the last wills of Louis Pasteur.
It is a very short text lacking any list of goods and properties that one can expect in a will.
In fact, Louis Pasteur’s last wishes were all for his wife, Marie Pasteur, the woman that had been by his side during his whole life and a fundamental support throughout the course of his research and discoveries.
The will read: “This is my testament. I leave to my wife as much as I am allowed to leave her under the law. May my children never stray from their duty and continue to give their mother the tenderness she deserves. L. Pasteur”
Louis Paster (27 December 1822 – 28 September 1895) is known for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation, and pasteurization. His groundbreaking research helped to understand the causes and preventions of diseases, and the importance of hygiene and its connection to public health.
The Pasteur Institute and the production of serums
Our content provider, La Contemporaine, preserves some interesting pictures that document the processes behind the preparation of serums such as the diphtheria serum at Garches, a facility of the Pasteur Institute outside Paris.
The serum for the immunisation from the Diphteria bacteria was developed at the Pasteur Institute, where the serum was then produced at the Pasteur Institute’s facility at Garches on a large scale.
The first step in the production of the serum involved the immunisation of horses.
Once a sufficient amount of toxin had been produced, the bacteria was killed or filtered and then it was injected again into the horses, producing the antitoxin.
Once horses were immunised, they could be bled in order to separate the serum out from the red blood corpuscles. The serum was then transferred into phials, which were then distributed to pharmacies and hospital ready to be inoculated.
Later, the Pasteur Institute also set up their own system of distribution, delivering the serum everywhere across France and abroad.
Browse more pictures of the Pasteur Institute at Garches on our Portal, here.
Charles Nicolle and the discovery of Thyphus transmission
Charles Nicolle (Rouen 1866 – Tunis 1936) was a French bacteriologist known for his discovery about the transmission of epidemic typhus and for identifying lice as the transmitter of the disease.
For his discovery, he received the Osiris Prize – awarded by the Institut de France – and the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1928.
He was for over 30 years the director of the Institute Pasteur in Tunis which under his guidance became an international centre renowned for the production of vaccines against infectious diseases and for outstanding medical research.
As a notable Rouen citizen, the local newspapers – Journal de Rouen – followed the medical achievements and discoveries made by Charles Nicolle over the years, honouring him with various mentions. The fully searchable digitised archive of the Journal de Rouen is currently preserved by our content provider Archives départementales de la Seine-Maritime and it can be consulted online here (Archives départementales de la Seine-Maritime also holds Charles Nicolle’s personal papers).
For instance, on 20 July 1899 the newspaper reports that researchers and student from all over the world travelled to France to join Dr. Charles Nicolle’s course on microbiology at the Medical School in Rouen.
On 28 February 1903, followed by another short piece published on 16 July 1903, the Journal de Rouen mentions the work Nicolle was doing on the Typhoid fever, reporting also his words about the assumption that the epidemic could be related to microbes that can be found in the water, opening a local discussion about the improvement of the quality and pureness of freshwater springs in Rouen and its surroundings.
The newspaper of Rouen kept following the development of their concitoyen Dr. Charles Nicolle’s research and in 1909 promptly reported how the bacteriologist understood how the bacterium responsible for the typhus infection lived in the blood of the human host. Nicolle arrived at the conclusion that for the bacterium to be introduced in the bloodstream of a healthy person it required a parasite. The problem was to determine what type of parasite was the carrier.
After further research, Nicolle found that the transmission was caused by louse’s excrement: the infection occurred when a small quantity of this is rubbed on the skin or eye.
To the details of the discovery and the impact it had on containing the typhus epidemic that occurred in North Africa and the Mediterranean Basin was dedicate a full article in 1927 (soon after receiving the Osiris Prize) of one column and a half long, which appears to be longer than the space allocated to other similar articles.
You can browse the search results about Charles Nicolle on our portal here.
Notes and fragments of research in Claude Bernard‘s personal archival collection (1838-1895)
Claude Bernard was a French physiologist who among his many accomplishments studied the functions of the pancreas and the glycogenic function of the liver, shedding light on the causes of diabetes mellitus.
Our content provider the Archives du Collège de France keeps Claude Bernard’s personal archival collection. This collection includes notebooks and handwritten notes mainly written by Claude Bernard.
Around 1850, Claude Bernard started to record his projects and results of experiments, observations of physiology and philosophical reflections in his many notebooks, continuing to note down experiments and thoughts for his whole life, constituting an exceptional collection. Although his laboratory notebooks and notes were created only for personal use, Claude Bernard expressed in his will the wish to have them kept and preserved.
Claude Bernard’s laboratory notebooks and journals help shed some light on his research and his research processes, offering a unique insight on the development of his studies and published work and an invaluable source for historians of medical sciences.
For instance, Fascicle 25b contains accounts of experiments and reflections on sugar, its formation, its destruction and its role in the organism, as well as reflections on glycemia and on diabetes mellitus.
Among the notebooks included in his personal collection there are cahièrs full of sketches and drawings that Bernard used to visualise and reproduce the structure of parts of the body or cells.
There are also autograph manuscripts and reprints of various works preserved among Claude Bernard’s papers, often including notes added to the margins by Bernard himself.
Unlike many scientific writers of his time, Bernard wrote in his notebooks and journals about his own experiments and thoughts using the first person, such as in Manuscript no.11.
The so-called “Cahier rouge” (Manuscript no.11 – the red notebook for the colour of its cover) was written between August 1850 and December 1860 and to its pages Claude Bernard confided his thoughts about his many projects and more.
Browse Bernard’s personal papers, notebooks and his whole personal collection preserved at the Archives of the Collège de France here.
The establishment of the healthcare system in Serbia (1920s)
The national healthcare system in Serbia was established in the early 1900s is often associated with the work of Andrija Štampar (1888-1958) who held the position of Ministry of Public Health until 1924.
The first health ministry of the then newly formed Yugoslavia, worked to take care of healthy children and their further proper development, to take care of population health, to build institutions for the prevention and treatment of diseases, to carry on epidemiological surveillance and to educate the population on health issues.
During this time, he managed to create many social and medical institutions across the then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
Thanks to the establishment of a well-interconnected network of public health homes, health and antimalarial stations, and anti-tuberculosis health services the Republic of Serbia developed one of the finest health systems in the world after World War I.
The Historical Archives of Belgrade holds some very interesting photos from the mid-1920s in their Photo Collection. In particular, the two photos above show the investment of resources and the attention demonstrated by the newly formed healthcare system in the territory of Serbia to children’s health, for instance, with vaccinations campaigns against tuberculosis and proper dental hygiene.