History of Medicine


An Open Access Journal

History of medicine in the Czech Republic: past and present

DOI: 10.17720/2409-5834.v3.2.2016.20e

Karel Černý

Charles University in Prague

This paper provides an overview of the history of medicine in the Czech Republic – from its’ beginning to the present time. It deals with the institutional development, the establishing of various learned societies and scientific journals as well as the role of individual historians. The first part of the paper describes the earliest writings related to the history of medicine in the 17th century and answers the question how this endeavour gathered more traction later when the subject was introduced as a course at the medical faculty in Prague during the last decade of the 18th century. The second part of the article deals with the foundation of the Institute for the History of Medicine in Prague and subsequent Pre-World War II period. The third part focuses mostly on the post-war period including how totalitarian regimes in the Central Europe affected the history of medicine. Also, the paper considers how additional centres for the study of medical history (such as the Museum of Medicine or the Department of medical history at Olomouc University) were established in post-war Czechoslovakia. It also pays attention to the societies which conducted research in the history of science (particularly in the field of medicine). The most notable example is the Czech (previously – Czechoslovak) Society for the History of Sciences and Technology. This part of the work also deals with the history of the “Dějiny věd a techniky” the only surviving journal dedicated to the history of science and technology in the Czech Republic. The last part of the article describes the development of the history of medicine after the Velvet Revolution (1989) with its newly achieved freedoms as well as financial struggles stemming from broad reform of medical curricula. Apart from that, it is described “who is who” in the Czech medical history including an overview of the most important recent publications.

Keywords: history of medicine, Bohemia, Czech Republic, Charles University, learned societies


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