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Henry E. Sigerist

Henry E. Sigerist Swiss medical historian

Swiss medical historian
Henry E. Sigerist
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Swiss medical historian
A.K.A. Henry Sigerist
Was Historian Medical historian Educator
From United States of America Switzerland
Type Academia Social science Healthcare
Gender male
Birth 7 April 1891, Paris, Île-de-France, France
Death 17 March 1957, Pura, Lugano District, Ticino (aged 65 years)
Children: Nora Beeson
The details


Henry Ernest Sigerist (7 April 1891, in Paris, France – 17 March 1957, in Pura, Switzerland) was a Swiss medical historian.


After graduating with an M.D. at the University of Zurich in 1917, Sigerist devoted himself to the study of the history of medicine. Socialized Medicine in the Soviet Union (1937), and History of Medicine were among his most important works. He emerged as a major spokesman for "compulsory health insurance". From 1932 to 1947 he was director at Johns Hopkins University institute of history of medicine. He received financial aid from the Rockefeller Institute. He attacked the American Medical Association because of his conflicting views on socialized medicine. Dr. Sigerist was influential in the creation of socialized medicine in Canada. He made four trips to Canada in the 1930s and 1940s at the invitation of various medical groups to speak on this topic. Under his influence, Saskatchewan introduced state-funded medical and hospital care for pensioners, people on welfare and cancer patients after being hired to write a report in 1944 by Tommy Douglas the socialist Premier of that Canadian province. This was the basis for the eventual adoption of government funded health care in all of Canada.

Obituaries and influence

Sigerist died in 1957, and his passing was mourned among many in the medical community, although his views on socialized medicine were often glossed over in obituaries in national newspapers. Although Sigerist's influence waned during the mid 1900s, he has slowly become an important figure again in medical history. In 1999 an article in Hopkins Medical News described his view that "the entire history of medicine was spiraling toward one inevitable end: socialized medicine." and said that "he invested all his enthusiasm on the wrong horse - the Soviet Union".

An organization of medical historians have named themselves the Sigerist Circle, and books such as Making Medical History: The Life and Times of Henry E. Sigerist by Theodore M. Brown and Elizabeth Fee have begun to reintroduce Sigerist's legacy to the world.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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