The European Association for the History of Medicine and Health looks forward to welcoming you at its biennial meeting, in an online format this time, organized in cooperation with the Research Group Cultural History since 1750 at KU Leuven.

Between September 7 and 10, scholars working in different fields will explore and discuss the theme of ‘Faith, Medicine and Religion’ in a historical perspective. The call for papers can be found on the conference’s website Individual and panel submissions are due 30 January 2021.

Last year's conference:

Sense and Nonsense Conference 27-30 August 2019

Conference logo

This biennial conference of the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health marked the 30th anniversary of the Association since its founding conference in Strasbourg in 1989. The title of the conference was chosen to recognise key themes at the heart of medical history debates and discussions and took place in the heart of England, at the University of Birmingham.

Keynote speakers included Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (University of Durham), Professor Robert Jütte (University of Stuttgart), Dr Tracey Loughran (University of Essex) and Dr Vanessa Heggie (University of Birmingham), who also ran expert sessions on public engagement and social media, among others, specifically for early career scholars on the first day of the conference.



Notes on EAHMH History

  • Initial meeting -  took place in London to found the Association in 1989.  Of those who would become officers of the new Association, Ulrich Troehler and Oivind Larson were in attendance. Rather than a ‘birth’, the meeting also on 14 July 1989 declared a previous International Academy for the History of Medicine dead and prepared the soil for its successor; this was followed by a number of other meetings, including Copenhagen, where the ideas for a coordinating body for medical historians that would promote activities and standards were developed. The genesis of the EAHMH was described by the First President Ulrich Troehler (Gottingen) in the first newsletter (Feb. 1992) as ‘long and complex’.  
  • Official seat of the Association was at the Universite Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg which was intended to represent its truly European mission and outlook, though membership was never exclusive to historians of medicine in Europe, or only those working on European subjects.
  • First officers were:

Presidents: Prof. U. Troehler (Gottingen); followed by 1995 Harm Beukers; 1997 John Woodward; 1999 Bernardino Fantini; 2001 Esteban Rodriguez-Ocana; 2003 Patrice Bourdelais; 2005 Virginia Berridge; 2007 Volker Roelcke; 2009 Frank Huisman; 2011 Laurinda D’Abreu; 2013 Heiner Fangerau; 2015 Octavian Buda; 2017 Jonathan Reinarz; 2019: who will it be  next and where will we go?

Secretary/Treasurer: Prof. C. Debru (Strasbourg)

Members of Council:  Profs Harm Beukers (Leiden); B. Lindskog (Copenhagen); and the President of the Universite Louis Pasteur (Gilbert Laustriat or his deputy). Location in Strasbourg also gave it proximity to the European Science Foundation, which organised international science network or large scale programmes and decided to recognise the EAHMH and sponsor three European Research Conferences.

  • It was decided that a Congress would be held every two years.  An inaugural meeting was held in Strasbourg on 26 Sept 1991 but a first Congress was scheduled to be held in Goettingen in 1993. This was later changed to Lunteren, near Arnhem in 1993. The Theme was Coping with Sickness: Science, Culture, Professions and State, papers from which would feature in the EAHMH’s first publication, edited by John Woodward and Robert Juette and printed at the University of Sheffield. The newsletter in Dec. 1995 emphasised that organisers were ‘particularly pleased with the participation of colleagues from eastern Europe’. Already its dispersed activities gave it a truly European appearance, but a conference in Riga in 1998 (24-26 Sept. New Approaches in Medical History) attracted 30 scholars, and our Bucharest Congress was yet to come. 
  • The Scientific Board was responsible for the congress programme and comprised:  Profs Trohler; Debru; Beukers; J. Woodward (Sheffield – also the first Chair); B. Fantini (Geneva and Naples); Joanna Geyer-Kordesch (Glasgow); M.-J. Imbault-Huart (Paris); Robert Juette (Stuttgart); E. Seidler (Freiburg); J. Sundin (Linkopping). Informal qualifications to be a board member specified in June 1995 newsletter as: ‘excellent scholar, readiness to work, ability to pay travel, ability to convene a meeting of the scientific board, good company, linguistic competence’. 
  • They held their first meeting in Goettingen on 7-8 Dec. 1991 and two more followed that year in Leiden (9-10 May) and Stuttgart (16-20 Sept.). In Leiden the programme for the first Congress was finalised. All speakers were invited and more than two dozen others presented posters. Four keynotes, each one starting one of the main sessions. 24 speakers contacted.
  • Special grants were already available to Eastern European countries. 92 people participated and 30 posters selected. There was no boat trip, but swimming, tennis and hiking. Attendance cost 1800 FF for poster presenters, 1000 to members of the EAHMH. Reflections on the first Congress were shared in newsletter Jan. 1994, was to include ‘less favoured countries’, such as ‘Spain, Italy and Scandinavia’. The conference venue was regarded a little ‘isolated’, but 2/3s of the presentations were judged ‘good’. A poster prize had been awarded to a ‘Spanish author’. It was also decided that there should perhaps be a more ‘democratic call for papers next time’, and the conference would be announced in journals.
  • Further congresses were held in:

1995- San Feliu de Guixols (Spain) Coping with Health: Concepts, Agents, Costs, Controversies. Swimming and tennis were again indulged. 

1997 – Castelvecchio Pascoli, Italy ‘Coping with Sickness’: Medicine, Science and Life Course

1999 – Almuñécar(Granada), Spain ‘The Healthy Life: People, Perceptions, Politics’

2001 -  Geneva ‘Health and the Child’; This marked the 40thanniversary of the building of the Geneva Children’s Hospital.

2003 – Oslo ‘Health Between the Private and Public’; all correspondence re the event was to take place by email. 

2005 – Paris ‘Cultural History of Health and Beyond’. First boat trip! Also joint venture with SSHM first explored. 

2007 – London ‘Environmental Health & History’; Thames cruise

2009 – Heidelberg ‘Global Developments and Local Specificities in the History of Medicine and Health’; fireworks on the River Neckar

2011 – Utrecht ‘Body and Mind in the History of Medicine and Health’ 

2013 – Lisbon ‘Risk and Disaster in Medicine and Health’

2015 – Cologne ‘Cash and Care’

2017 – Bucharest ‘The Body Politic: States in the History of Medicine and Health’

And no, in 2019,  ‘Sense and Nonsense’…

  • Membership originally cost 150 FF and, in exchange for this fee, members got a newsletter and a discount on the publications. It exceeded 100 members by June 1992 (as reported in issue 2 of the newsletter); issue two also incidentally advertised the SSHM conference on Communities, Caring and Institutions, held at All Souls College Oxford in July 1992; The SSHM also advertised their upcoming event in Southampton in 1993 on ‘Medical History and Computing’, inviting ‘individuals who have used or are currently using computers and would like to discuss the results they have obtained’.
  • Number crunching remained a preoccupation of the EAHMH, which reported membership of 135 in Dec. 1992; 183 in Jan. 1994; 201 (June 1994); 218 (Dec. 1995); 269 (June 1997); 312 (Dec. 1999).  The accounts were first presented in Jan. 1994, showing a total of 30,484 FF, 20,375 of which was held in bonds. This increased to 55,729. The first pressure on finances came from conference organisation, but also the launch of the publication series. In Dec 2001, the Treasurer reported that only 60% of members appeared to be paying their dues. From 2002, these would have to be paid in a new currency, with the fee set at 25 Euros. Newsletter would be withheld from members who had not paid for two years. Since the European project had its own anthem, the Association also chose its own hymn, Franz Schubert’s ‘An die Musik’. 
  • Newsletter - prepared by Claude Debru and Christian Bonah (assisted by Fabienne Gisselbrecht) and listed medical history events and activities across Europe. In 1992 the News section had headings for the following countries: England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the USA. The official language was stated to be English and French in Issue 2, but by June 1993 newsletter editors had inserted a ‘Warning: Your Texts in English Please’, which was rephrased in the next issue by removing the ‘Warning’. Its office moved from Strasbourg to Stuttgart with a change in editor (Robert Juette) in 1995. While members’ publications were published occasionally, in June 1996, 25 publications listed, including Bonner’s Becoming a Physician, several publications from the Homeopathy Network and the EAHMH’s own volume, Coping with Sickness (1995). In June 1997, it was decided to continue publishing the newsletter as not all members had access to ‘electronic communications’ yet. Reports in 1998 came from all the usual European countries, but also Croatia, Hungry, Russia and Mexico. Notes and queries were to be sent to the editors ‘on a diskette, either MacIntosh or PC, which will be sent back to its owner’. Website mentioned in 1999, launched in 2002, but correspondence re the newsletter was still done by fax.  In Dec. 1994 the newsletter advertised its first job, a Professorship in medical history in Copenhagen. Obituaries published included that for Luis Garcia Ballester, one of the founders of the EAHMH in Dec. 2000. Roy Porter’s untimely death was of course published in 2002. 
  • Networks:  The first network was announced in Issue 2 of the newsletters and was run by Robert Juette on the History of Homeopathy and was based in Stuttgart, where Samuel Hahnemann’s archives and his disciples are kept. Catherine Rollet expressed an interest in founding another network on childhood policies between different countries. By Dec 1992 an International Network for the History of Malaria had been started, based in Geneva, an advert had been placed by George Raptis in Giessen who was interested in starting a Medical Ethics Network. A Public Health Network was set up by 1993, with its first meeting taking place in Sweden in May 1994, and other networks on Physiology, and another on Pathology, which held its first meeting in Freiburg, Germany in June 1994. The PH network was particularly successful, with 200 members and co-organising the 1997 SSHM conference in Liverpool. They would launch their own journal Hygeia Internationalis in 1999. In that same year, the EAHMH combined with the network to organise their Granada Congress. IN 2003, they were requested to select one keynote for Oslo. The malaria network held its first conference in Bellagio, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, 18 attending. The Physiology network conference proceedings would be published in Clio Medica in 1995 In June 1995 Sonia Horn (Vienna) proposed a ‘Sources in Medicine’ network. In Dec. 1995, a Hospital History network was initiated and organised by John Henderson, Olwen Hufton and Guenter Risse. They reported 110 members in June 1998. In 1999, they would hold their first conference at the University of East Anglia in Norwich entitled ‘From Liturgy to Therapy’. By this time membership reached 140 members, and they were advertising their second conference in Verona (2001). In 2002, the INHH had 220 members. An Ethics in History network was proposed in June 1996. If they posted very little in 1998 that was because ‘most of its members were completing their PhD dissertations’. Leprosy network launched at Oxford in 2002, and a History of Biomedicine started by Dec 2002, and the final issue of the newsletter in June 2003 announced a network for Interwar Health. 

As always, the Scientific Board wanted to be better informed of their work (June 1998).

Of its original activities, many newsletters lamented that not more had been done to support summer courses, and ‘intensive training programmes’. The final issue of the newsletter ended on an even more pessimistic note, the war in Iraq.