Memories of Medical Practice. Memoirs as Source of Medical History in the Nineteenth Century Cover Image

Souvenirs de pratique médicale. Les mémoires comme source de l’histoire de la médicine dans le XIXème siècle
Memories of Medical Practice. Memoirs as Source of Medical History in the Nineteenth Century

Author(s): Constantin Bărbulescu
Subject(s): History
Published by: Editura Academiei Române
Keywords: history of medicine; history of the 19th century; memoirs

Summary/Abstract: The paper is trying to present a category of sources for the history of Romanian physicians and medicine in the 19th century and the beginning of the following one: memoirs written by physicians. Before showing the value of this category of sources for the nowadays historian, we tried to see how these memoirs are written and which is their motivation. In other words why physicians are writing memoirs and how they write them, based on what sources? Generally we may divide the memoirs analyzed into two big categories: an autobiographic one where the stress is upon the life history of the author and a historical one where the main competence is historical and thus, being in the 19th century, national. In this latter category the main character is no longer the author, he is just a witness to the Great History and especially to its hot and tragic events. Memoirs prove to be an important source for the historian interested in physicians and medicine of the XIX-th century, an indispensable source we might say. Because, most of the times in old age, when they write their memoirs our physicians open their souls and put on the paper life fragments that other sources refer with difficulty or not at all. Many times memoirs are testimonies for the marginal practices like surgery “in town” that are not in conformity with the ideology of the medical practice of the time and consequently, they are hidden. The multitude of empiric healers specialized or not, that swarm in the villages and cities of Romania before 1900, so well described by Doctor Severeanu, are entering seldom and with great difficulty in the lights of history.

  • Issue Year: LII/2013
  • Issue No: 52
  • Page Range: 29-41
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: French