Henry E. Sigerist

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Henry E. Sigerist in 1929

Henry Ernest Sigerist (7 April 1891 in Paris, France – 17 March 1957 in Pura, Switzerland) was a Swiss medical historian.[1]


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.[1] 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[edit]

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".[2]

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.[3]


  1. ^ a b Henry Ernest Sigerist. Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ Worthington, Janet (Winter 1999). "Flawed Apostle". Hopkins medical News. Archived from the original on 6 August 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. ^ Fee, Elizabeth and Brown, Theodore M. (1997) The Life and Times of Henry E. Sigerist. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801853559

External links[edit]

  • Henry Ernest Sigerist papers (MS 788). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library. [1]