It runs in the family. Noble families as networks for spreading and sharing medical knowledge in 19th century Finland

Aktivitet: Tal eller presentationKonferenspresentation


The development of medical thoughts and practices have been the focus of a lot of research within the field of medical history and from different perspectives. However, the importance of laymen and the way medical knowledge and notions spread within networks of for example families – through everyday practice and correspondence – tend to be forgotten.

My presentation ties mostly into the first topic: scientific networks. I look at families as networks where new medical science and knowledge spread. These networks mirrored the professional ones. When looking at networks of laymen – here families – you can follow what medical knowledge and developments laymen integrated and embraced in their daily life and medical culture. The knowledge and theories that physicians and other professionals inhabited was one thing, but the notions of medicine and health that laymen had is just as important if we want to have the complete picture.

My focus is the long 19th century, when laymen heavily relied on their personal networks for medical help: they sent the advice from physicians through letters, they recommended physicians to each other, sent medical recipes and thoughts on how different diseases could be cured as well as told each other stories about new treatments.

The families I study belonged to the social elite in Finland. I have studied the letters and diaries of about 15 families, and thanks to an extensive material I have been able to follow three generations within these families and thus study the change that happened over time in regards of the medical knowledge and culture that these families cultivated. My goal is to give the audience a better picture of the importance of personal networks between laymen in the spreading of medical knowledge and how this knowledge changed within these networks through the long 19th century.
Period1 juni 2023
HändelsetitelNordic Medical History Congress 2023
Typ av evenemangKonferens
PlatsHelsingfors, FinlandVisa på karta


  • medicinhistoria
  • medical history
  • kulturhistoria
  • 1800-tal
  • family networks
  • hälsa
  • sjukdom
  • kunskapshistoria