The history of homeopathy in the Russian Empire
until World War I, as compared with other European countries and the USA: similarities and discrepancies

by Alexander Kotok, M.D.
On-line version of the Ph.D. thesis improved and enlarged
due to a special grant of the Pierre Schmidt foundation.

Notes and references

Chapter Three: Homeopathy and zemstvo medicine

1 Many Russian physicians regarded zemstvo medicine as a matter of the highest importance. So, Prof. V. I. Razumovsky said in his speech "Medicine and Surgery" before the delegates of the 8th Meeting of the Pirogov Society that "Russian medical science had been established by Pirogov, whilst the next in importance was the introduction of zemstvo medicine". Vrachebnaia gazeta, 1902, 2, p. 45.

2 John T. Alexander, "Catherine the Great and Public Health", Journal of the History of Medicine, vol. XXXVI, No 2, April 1981, p. 202.

3 Vladimir Kanel', "Obshchestvennaia meditsina v sviazi s usloviiami zhizni naroda" (Public Medicine in Connection With the Conditions of the People's Life) In: "Istoriia Rossii v XIX veke" (History of Russia in the 19th Century), St. Petersburg, 1907, vol. 8, pp. 156—157.

4 S. N. Korzhenevsky, "Zemskaia meditsina v Tverskoi gubernii" (Zemstvo Medicine in the Tver' Province), 1903, 1, p. 5.

5 Moskovskaia meditsinskaia gazeta (The Moscow Medical Newspaper), 1861, 2, p.13.

6 Aron P. Zhuk, "Razvitie obshestvenno-meditsinskoi mysli v Rossii v 60—70 gg. XIX veka" (The Development of Public-Medical Thought in Russia in the 1860—1870s of the 19th Century), Moscow, 1963, p. 24.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid., p. 23.

9 "Istoricheskoe obozrenie 50-letnei deyatel'nosti Ministerstva gosudarstvennykh imushchestv" (Historical Sketch of the Activity of the Ministry of State Appanages during 50 Years), St. Petersburg, 1888, v. II, p. 12.

10 V. Kanel', "Obshchestvennaia...", see note 3, p. 166. Interesting to add that the peasants had to pay for carrying out those "prophylactic" smallpox vaccinations!

11 See Charles E. Timberlake, James A. Malloy, Jr., "Introduction" in: Boris Veselovsky, 'Istoriia zemstva za 40 let' (History of Zemstvo During 40 Years), St. Petersburg, 1909, republished in Cambridge, 1973, vol. 1, p. v.

12 The differences between the recipients were considerable: when altogether the zemstvos received about 8,750,000 rubles, the Orlov zemstvo got 503,000 rubles whereas the Ufa zemstvo got only 55,000 rubles. (B. Veselovsky, ibid., p. 270).

13 Ibid., p. 270 and p. 273.

14 Ibid., p. 272.

15 Ibid., p. 357.

16 Ibid., p. 358.

17 "Bolshaia Meditsinskaia Entsiklopediia", 1959, 2nd ed., v. 10, p. 782.

18 A. Zhuk, "Razvitie...", see note 6, p. 30.

19 Ibid., p. 27.

20 On Dr. Yacov Chistovich see note 12 to Ch. II.

21 Meditsinsky vestnik (Medical Herald), 1871, 12, p. 89.

22 A. Engelhardt, "Dvenadtsat' pisem iz derevni" (Twelve Letters from the Village), Moscow, 1956, p. 49.

23 For more detailed information on those discussions see B. Veselovsky, "Istoriia...", see note 11, pp. 274—289. It should be added that zemstvo budgets came primarly from taxes on landowners who were the dominated elments in "zemskaia uprava" (the local zemstvo authoirty) — in particular in "uezds" (districts). "Uezd" zemstvos were notorious for their miserely approach to financing all kinds of activities.

I have to mention here that, in fact, until now there has not been a clear understanding of how medical support should be provided to the population in the Russian Federation. The approach adopted, during the Soviet Union period, of increasing the number of medical staff and local medical institutions, proved to be economically nonsensical. In addition, because of the huge size of the territory and its highly scattered population, especially in the eastern areas, the problem of providing satisfactory modern medical assistance remained very difficult. These difficulties may be compared with those of the rich and safe United States where the closing of rural hospitals and the lack of physicians in rural localities are growing yearly, because of financial problems.

24 Samuel S. Ramer, "Feldshers and Rural Health Care in the Early Soviet Period" in: Susan Gross Solomon and John F. Hutchinson, (Eds.) "Health and Society in Revolutionary Russia", Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1990, pp. 121—122.

25 To figure the opinion of an ordinary zemstvo physicians about this charge, see the book of S. Verbov, "Na vrachebnom postu v zemstve. Vospominaniia" (Being a Physician in a Zemstvo. Memoirs), Paris, 1961, pp. 247—249.

26 Reflecting the most common view of Russian physicians, Dr. Zabelin wrote in the pre-zemstvo period, in 1858: "The physician of the people has to be rewarded not from the hands of the poor sick, but from the hands of the healthy society so the sick could see him not as a profiteer, but as a brother of charity" — Moscovskaia meditsinskaia gazeta (Moscow Medical Paper), 1858, 48, p. 395. The editor of the periodical V. Yeltsinsky, four years later, stressed: "We vote for social duties. We find it wrongful to charge directly a diseased peasant because these fees would be above of the majority of the peasants' possibility and would break off the peasant's desire to resort to medical help". — Moscovskaia meditsinskaia gazeta, 1862, 2—4, ? cit. A. Zhuk, "Razvitie...", see note 7, p. 351.

27 "Zemsky ezhegodnik" (Zemstvo Annual), 1879, p. 227.

28 V. Kanel', "Obshchestvennaia...", see note 3, p. 184.

29 Ibid., p. 185.

30 B. Veselovsky, "Istoriia...", see note 11, p. 366.

31 Z. Frenkel, "Ocherki zemskogo vrachebno-sanitarnogo dela" (Essays of the Medical-Sanitary Zemstvo Affair), St. Petersburg, 1913 pp. 121 and 125.

32 Prince G. E. L'vov and T. E. Pol'ner, "Nashe zemstvo i 50 let ego raboty" (Our Zemstvo and 50 Years of its Work), Moscow, 1914, p. 46.

33 Novoe vremia (New Time), 1902, ?, cit. Vrachebnaia gazeta, 1902, 11, p. 267. When discussing the problem of relationships between doctors and their zemstvo employers, Nancy Frieden stresses that "Many of these conflicts arose because the physicians lacked well-defined rights and obligations, and because in the early years of the program they may have had unrealistic expectations". N. Frieden, "Russian Physicians in an Era of Reform and Revolution, 1856—1905", Princeton, New Jersey, 1981, p. 117.

34 A. Zhuk, "Razvitie...", see note 6, p. 356.

35 The word "feldsher", introduced into Russian under Peter the Great, is rooted in German "Feldscher" meaning "field surgeon" (Max Fasmer "Russisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch", Heidelberg, 1950—1958; a Russian edition "Etimologichesky slovar' russkogo iazyka", v. IV, p. 189, St. Petersburg, 1996). In modern Russian this word means a graduate of a special secondary medical school, who has the right of independent providing medical assistance (chiefly first aid) to the population at feldsher-obstetrical stations. Dal' describes "feldsher" as "physician's assistant" (pomoshchnik lekaria; V. Dal', "Slovar' zhivogo velikorusskogo iazyka" [A Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language], St. Petersburg, 1880, v. 4, p. 533). During the period under study, feldhsers were understood mainly as independent medical practitioners, mainly in rural localities, with that or other, even very poor, medical education.

36 V. Kanel' also pointed out that "The history of zemstvo medicine has documented cases in which the peasants headed the opposition to a rational organisation of medicine. Intercessions for opening feldsher stations, trust in sorcerers, neglecting physicians' help, unwillingness to spend money for sanitary measures - these were the peasants' wishes they openly brought at the zemstvo meetings" (V. Kanel', "Obshchestvennaia...", see note 3, p. 170). Often even well educated deputies of the zemstvo authorities firmly refused venturous proposals of zemstvo physicians for establishing new hospitals, sanitary stations, inviting officials for making statistic studies, etc.

37 For the origins of Russian feldshers and the problems of their education and employment in Russia, see Samuel C. Ramer, "Who was the Russian feldsher?", Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1976, 50, pp. 213—225.

38 Michael Kapustin, "Osnovnye voprosy zemskoi meditsiny" (Main Problems of Zemstvo Medicine), St. Petersburg, 1889, p. 25.

39 E. A. Osipov, I. V. Popov, P. I. Kurkin, "XII Mezhdunarodnyi s'ezd vrachei. Russkaia zemskaia meditsina" (The 12th International Congress of Physicians. Russian Zemstvo Medicine), Moscow, 1899, p. 67.

40 Vrachebnaia gazeta, 1902, 5, pp. 150—151.

41 Alexander Novikov, "Zapiski zemskogo nachal'nika" (Letters of a Zemstvo Manager), St. Petersburg, 1899, p. 220.

42 B. Veselovsky, "Istoriia...", see note 11, pp 336—355.

43 Samuel C. Ramer, "The zemstvo and public health" in: Terence Emmons and Wayne S. Vucinich (Eds.) "The zemstvo in Russia. An experiment in local self-government", Cambridge, 1982, p. 292.

44 Ibid., p. 295 and p. 297.

45 M. Kapustin, "Osnovnye...", see note 38, p. 32.

46 For a deeper analysis of the problem of "feldsherism" see the chapter "Feldsherism" in the cited paper of Samuel C. Ramer, "The zemstvo....", see note 43, pp. 292—298.

47 Ibid., pp. 297-298.

48 Ibid., p. 296.

49 A. Engelhardt "Dvenadtsat'...", see note 22, p. 186.

50 See the article "O smertnosti russkih vrachei" (On the mortality of Russian physicians) by N. Zeland published in Vrach, 1894, 28, pp. 789—91. It was pointed out in this paper that about 33% of the general mortality rate in Russian doctors is represented by such diseases as typhus, diphtheria, cholera and glanders. Also the suicide rate in physicians was proved to be significantly higher than that in the common population.

51 Speaking of the escape of physicians from zemstvo medicine as a result of disappointment during the period of the revolutionary movement's decline, Hutchinson refers to A. Amsterdamsky, who reviewed the scene in 1911, and noted that many zemstvos had been forced to raise the salaries of guberniia and uezd physicians between 1908 and 1911, but that these actions had merely slowed down, rather than stopped "the flight of physicians from zemstvo service". Typically, salaries were increased from 1,200—1500 rubles to the 1,500—2,000 rubles, with possible increases to as much as 3,000 rubles after ten or fifteen years of service. Zemstvos in more remote — especially northern — areas had even greater difficulty in attracting and retaining physicians. Amsterdamsky commented that "Evidently among zemstvo physicians there is [...] suppressed dissatisfaction with their status, the insufficiency of their work, a diminishing of past excitement and a loss of faith in the broad public significance of their work" — Vestnik Obshchestvennoi Gigieny, Sudebnoi i Prakticheskoi Meditsiny (Public Hygiene, Forensic and Practical Medicine Herald; this journal was published by the Ministry of Interior from 1889 to 1915), part 4 (1911): 1377 and part IV, (1913): 1035, cit. John F. Hutchinson, "Politics and Public Health in Revolutionary Russia, 1890—1918", Baltimore and London, 1990, pp. 57—58.

52 B. Veselovsky, "Istoria...", see note 11, p. 368.

53 On the last days of the zemstvo medical system's existence under Bolsheviks, see John F. Hutchinson, "Who killed Cock Robin?" An Inquiry into the Death of Zemstvo Medicine", in: Susan Gross Solomon and John F. Hutchinson, (Eds.) "Health and Society in Revolutionary Russia", Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1990.

54 Vrach, 1893, 5, p. 142. I guess that it was Dr. Viachaslav Shibasov (1831—1898) who, as it was reported in his obituary, had been worked in the Novouzensk zemstvo during 17 years; after he had started openly propagandizing homeopathy, his zemstvo colleagues drove him out of the zemstvo. He had moved to Belostock, then to Berdichev and later to Saratov. Vrach-gomeopat, 1898, 5, p. 211.

55 Gomeopatichesky vestnik, 1887, 6, p. 485.

56 "Zemsky ezhegodnik za 1877" (Zemstvo Annual for 1877), St. Petersburg, 1879, p. 242.

57 Vrach, 1887, 51, p. 996.

58 See the section "The Belev Experience" in the chapter "Homeopathy and clergy".

59 Vrach, 1893, 19, p. 566.

60 Vrach, 1893, 44, p. 1235. The zemstvo chairman Gan was a member of the Poltava Society of the Followers of Homeopathy. This god-forsaken Ukrainian district appeared in "Vrach-gomeopat" in 1896. A certian anonimous Ukrainian landlord, who introduced himself as a "Zaporozhian chracteristic person" and who lived in "khutor" (a small Ukrainian village) Gorishny-Mliny of the Kobeliaki distrcit, described in several papers his large and successful experience in the treatment of the members of his family and neighbouring peasants with homeopathic medicines. He lost in 1889 seven members of his family of eight out who had been taken ill with diphteria, in spite of allopathic treatment all they received. When suffering severely from depression and terrible headaches, whilst an allopathic treatment was as powerless as it had been in the case of diphteria, he was successfully treated with Arsenicum 3 prescribed by a rural teacher familiar to him. Then he became very interested in homeopathy, bought books and medicines and started to treat on his own. ("Vrach-gomeopat", 1896, 3—8).

61 Vrachebnaia gazeta, 1902, 34, p. 800.

62 A. Engelhardt, "Dvenadtsat'...", see note 22, p. 155.

63 A. Zhuk, "Razvitie...", see not 6, p. 350. It is not by chance that zemstvo deputies and officials were treated by the Bolsheviks as counter-revolutionaries who should "removed" from the way of the victorious movement of the Revolution..

64 See, for example, an article by G. Goriansky "O vliianii klukvennogo soka na kholernuiu zapiatuiu" (Concerning the Influence of a Cranberry Juice on vibrio cholerae), Vrach, 1894, 6, pp. 170—171; a letter of some physician concerning the attempts to treat with "intensified physical exercise" Vrach, 1894, 4, p. 119 and an article of V. M. Rozhansky "Goriachie vanny and russkaia bania pri lechenii aziatskoi kholery" (Hot and Russian baths in the Treatment of Cholera Asiatica"), Vrach, 1894, 29, p. 813.

65 Evgraph Diukov, "Gomeopatiia kak vopros zemsko-obshchestvennoi meditsiny", Khar'kov, 1899, 25 pp.

66 Vestnik gomeopaticheskoi meditsiny, 1900, 1, pp. 31—32.

67 See, for example, a letter of N. Lobachevsky published in Gomeopatichesky vestnik, 1885, 1, pp. 18—21.

68 Vestnik gomeopaticheskoi meditsiny, 1903, 11, p. 373.

69 See the section on "The Nizhnedevitsk experience" further in this chapter.

70 Vestnik gomeopaticheskoi meditsiny, 1912, 5, p. 113.

71 Nicholas I. Grech & Vasily I. Deriker, "O sposobah okhrany narodnogo zdraviia. Mnenie postoronnego, predlagaemoe zemskim sobraniiam i upravam", St. Petersburg, 1st ed. — 1866; 2nd ed. — 1870, 3rd ed. — 1876.

72 Evgraph Diukov, "Meditsina i mediki. O neobhodimosti izmeneniia priniatoi sistemy obrazovaniia i vospitaniia medikov", Khar'kov, 1st ed. — 1904, 2nd ed. — 1911.

73 About Vasily Deriker see the chapter "Homeopathic facilities". On this brochure see the chapter "Homeopathy and clergy".

74 N. Grech & V. Deriker, "O sposobah...",see note 71, p. 5.

75 Ibid.

76 Ibid., pp. 6—7.

77 Ibid., pp. 7—8.

78 i.e., "Polozhenie o zemskih uchrezhdeniiah" — see the section "The Zemstvo system" in this chapter.

79 Ibid., pp. 8—11.

80 See the section "Homeopathic periodicals" in the chapter "Homeopathic facilities".

81 See the section "The 9th Meeting of the Pirogov Society" in the chapter "Allopathy vs. Homeopathy".

82 Mirny trud (Peaceful Work) — a literary, scientific and social periodical which was published in Khar'kov from 1902 to 1914.

83 Vestnik gomeopaticheskoi meditsiny, 1912, 1, p. 24.

84 E. Diukov, "Meditsina...", see note 72, p. 2.

85 Ibid., pp. 2—3.

86 Ibid., p. 3—4.

87 Sergey Botkin (1832—1889) — one of the most distinguished Russian clinicians, the founder of St. Petersburg school of clinical medicine, Prof. of St. Petersburg Medical-Surgical Academy (since 1861).

88 E. Diukov, "Meditsina...", see note 72, pp. 147—148.

89 Ibid., pp. 150.

90 Ibid., pp 151—153.

91 Universitetskie izvestiia, 1886, 12, I. IV, pp. 1—3.

92 Ibid., pp. 3—5.

93 Vrach, 1887, 11, p. 258.

94 Kievlianin, 21.03. 1887 (N 63), p. 2.

95 Vrach, 1887, 13, p. 292.

96 N. N. F-sky, (Fedorovsky) "Na obshchy sud! Otvet Kievskomu meditsinskomu fakultetu na ego mnenie o gomeopaticheskom sposobe lechenia. K dokladu ocherednym zemskim sobraniiam", Kiev, 1877, 24 pp.

97 Ibid., pp. 15—16.

98 Ibid., p. 20.

99 "Otvet S.-Peterburgskogo Obshchestva vrachei-gomeopatov na otzyv professorov meditsinskogo fakulteta universiteta Sv. Vladimira o gomeopaticheskom lechenii s prilozheniem otdel'nykh vosrazhenii doktorov L. Brazolia, Solianskogo i E. Gabrilovicha", St. Petersburg, 1877, 22 pp.

100 Ibid., p. 7.

101 Ibid., p. 10-11.

102 Ibid., p. 20.

103 Gomeopatichesky vestnik, 1887, 7—8, pp. 654—655. I guess it was landlord Alexander Korsakov of the village Kapustino, whose articles were published in 1886 in the same periodical. Unfortunately, I am not aware whether there was any kindred connections of him with the prominent inventor of "the single vial method" landlord Semen Korsakov (see the section "The Cholera years" in the chapter "Allopathy vs Homeopathy") for the family name Korsakov has been widely spread among Russians.

104 Vrach, 1887, 33, p. 646.

105 "7-e Obshchee sobranie chlenov S.-Peterburgskogo Obshchestva 'posledovatelei gomeopatii' 19-go aprelia 1887 goda" (The 7th Common Meeting of the Members of the St. Petersburg Society of the Followers of Homeopathy held on April 19, 1887), St. Petersburg, 1888, p. 25.

106 "Gomeopatiia i gosudarstvo. Doklad N. F. Fedorovskogo obshchemu sobraniiu chlenov St. Peterburgskogo Obshchestva samopomoshchi v bolezniakh" (Homeopathy and the State. Report of N. F. Fedorovsky to the Members of A General Meeting of the St. Petersburg Society of Self-Help in Diseases), Vestnik gomeopaticheskoi meditsiny, 1901, 11, pp. 381—382.

107 Vrachebno-sanitarnaia khronika Voronezhskoi gubernii, 1901, 10, p. 660.

108 Ibid., p. 661.

109 See the section "Contra homeopathy" in the chapter "Allopathy vs. Homeopathy".

110 Vrachebno-sanitarnaia..., see note 107, pp. 661—662.

111 Vrach, 1901, 45, p. 1398.

112 Vrach, 1901, 48, p. 1498.

113 Vrachebnaia gazeta, 1901, 45, p. 886.

114 Vrachebnaia gazeta, 1901, 46, p. 906.

115 Vrachebnaia gazeta, 1902, 4, p.101.

116 "Sovetsky Entsiklopedichesky slovar'" (The Soviet Encyclopaedic Dictionary), Moscow, 1980, p. 1527, informs: "Shingarev Andrey Ivanovich, zemstvo figure, physician, publicist, one of the leaders of the cadets [Party for Constitutional Democracy]; deputy at the 2nd to 4th Dumas. In 1917, became Minister of the Provisional Government. Was killed by anarchists". Also it should be mentioned that both Teziakov and Shingarev had been active members of the Pirogov Society of Russian physicians whose extremely negative attitude toward homeopathy was established officially at the 9th Congress in 1904; see also the chapter "Allopathy vs. Homeopathy". Ramer testifies: "Sanitary physicians such as F. F. Erisman, I. I. Molleson, E. A. Osipov, D. N. Zhbankov, V. I. Dolzhenkov, A. I. Shingarev, and N. I. Teziakov were particularly influential in the society's congresses as well as its governing board..." Samuel Ramer, "The zemstvo...", see note 43, p. 289.

117 Meditsinskaia beseda, 1902, 1 — January, pp. 1—2. Probably, it was the paper promised by Dr. Teziakov to the readers of "Khronika", as "Khronika" did not return to the topic of homeopathy any more.

118 Meditsinskaia beseda, 1902, 2 — February, p. 58.

119 Vrachebnaia gazeta, 1902, 7, p. 170.

120 This request was later refuted by homeopaths — see Vestnik gomeopaticheskoi meditsiny, 1902, 4, p. 122.

121 Vrachebnaia gazeta, 1902, 9, p. 216.

122 Vrach-gomeopat, 1901, 11, pp. 451—52.

123 Vestnik gomeopaticheskoi meditsiny, 1903, 11, pp. 371—373.

124 Vestnik gomeopaticheskoi meditsiny, 1904, 1, pp.10—31.

125 Vestnik gomeopaticheskoi meditsiny, 1903, 11, p. 374.

126 Ibid.

127 See the chapter "Homeopathy and clergy".

128 Ibid.

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Copyright © Alexander Kotok 2001
Mise en page, illustrations Copyright © Sylvain Cazalet 2001