|| Struggling with the
management of infectious diseases and alnutrition, first attempts to unify
the Viennese physicians were undertaken in the beginning of the 19th century.
From then on the rapid distribution of medical information was facilitated
by the introduction of printed Annual Medical reports for the people living
in Vienna, which later (1887) were followed by the classical journal Wiener
In 1838 the Society of Physicians was officially founded in a festive event
with minister of state Prince von Metternich and the whole medical faculty
being present. Since then the Society of Physicians was a pacemaker
in improving hygiene standards including fresh water supply of the city
of Vienna, and in the advancement of novel treatments based on controlled
In the beginning the society of physicians was settled within the building
of the old university in the city of Vienna, Dr. Ignaz Seipel Platz 2, where
today the Austrian Academy of Sciences resides. First in 1893, upon efforts
of the society ´s then president Theodor Billroth, an own home base
was found in Frankgasse No. 8 next to the old university clinic Allgemeines
Krankenhaus (AKH). This house is ever since known as the Billrothhaus
and was an important foster place for medical science:
novel findings were (and still are) presented in weekly sessions to the
collegium, often rendering hot and critical discussions. Most prestigious
personalities of the history of medicine have presented their work for the
first time in this place, among them Rokitansky, Hebra, Freud, Billroth
and Landsteiner. They all were pacemakers at their time and their findings
do still impact today ´s medicine.
A strange thing of this architecturally and art - historically interesting
house is the large meeting room sketched by Billroth himself. So that the
physicians can leave the hall to consultations as rapidly as possible, for
each seat row two side doors, all together 21 doors, were inserted. The
hall with 300 seats and a gallery is decorated with Portraits of large physicians
and presidents of the society.
The principal item of the Billroth house and the actual treasure of the
society of the physicians is the library. With approximately 25.000 Monographs
and 2.000 historically valuable magazines it ranks today among the most
valuable technical libraries of the world. Only few libraries possess comparable
complete magazine rows, which decrease/go back a hundred and more years.
Extensive archives -it contains for example the entire official and private
- had to bepaged out from space reasons into the Institute for history of
medicine in the Josephinum.
For friends of old libraries one highlight is the read hall but also of
the dangerous kind: an area, in which one forgets the time and spends hours
browsing in the treasuries