Budapest, Vienna and Leipzig: Hartleben, 1861.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Near Fine. Item #003152
8vo (229 x 145 mm). vi, 543  pp. Original contemporary half cloth and marbled boards, spine lettered in gilt, marbled edges (upper joint repaired, some light marginal wear and edge chipping of paper over boards). Text generally very bright and clean with only minor faint brown spotting to few pages. Provenance: Walther Pfeilsticker (owner's name dated 1911 on front free endpaper); Logan Clendening (bookplate to rear pastedown); W. Bruce Fye. Few copies of this work have survived and ours is notable for being in excellent condition. ----
FIRST EDITION. "One of the epoch-making books in medical literature" (Garrison-Morton). This very rare volume summarizes Semmelweis's classic observations on the etiology, contagiousness and prevention of puerperal fever. In the late 1840s, while serving as assistant professor in the maternity department of Vienna General Hospital, Semmelweis had demonstrated that puerperal, or childbed, fever was a septicemia and strove to improve hygienic conditions in the city's obstetrics wards. Completely unaware of the contributions of Oliver Wendell Holmes in this same field, Semmelweis prescribed the washing of the doctor's hands in a calcium chloride solution before attending a childbirth. The result was that infant mortality was reduced by five-sixths. Nevertheless, Semmelweis faced enormous opposition and even ridicule from colleagues and when his hospital position was not renewed, he was forced to move from Vienna to Budapest in 1850. In 1855 he was appointed to a chair of midwifery at the University of Pest, where he continued his crusade. Finally in 1861, he published his findings, at the same time issuing a series of polemical pamphlets describing his opponents as 'murderers.' The personal animosity between Semmelweis and the Viennese medical establishment contributed to the delay in implementing his recommendations. His lack of talent as a writer also impeded the understanding and acceptance of his theories. His biographer, Sir. W. J. Sinclair, remarked that "if he could have written like Oliver Wendell Holmes, his Äetiology would have conquered Europe in twelve months."
References: Garrison-Morton 6277; Grolier/Medicine 72a; Heirs of Hippocrates 1851; Norman 1926; PMM - Printing and the Mind of Man 316(b2); Simmons, Doctors and Discoveries: Lives that Created Today's Medicine (2002), pp. 165-168; Waller 8830. - Visit our website for additional images and information.
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