An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

15961 entries, 13944 authors and 1935 subjects. Updated: April 29, 2024

VIRCHOW, Rudolf Ludwig Karl

24 entries
  • 3062

Weisses Blut.

N. Notiz. Geb. Natur- u. Heilk, 36, 151-56., 1845.

Only six weeks after Bennett, Virchow independently published a report on the necropsy of a case of leukemia. He gave the condition its present name. For translation, see Major, Classic descriptions of disease, 3rd. ed., 1945, p. 510.

Subjects: HEMATOLOGY › Blood Disorders, ONCOLOGY & CANCER › Leukemia
  • 2296

Die pathologischen Pigmente.

Virchows Arch. path. Anat., 1, 379-404, 407-86, 1847.

On the origin and chemical composition of extracellular and intracellular pigments, and on the supposed formation of new cells by the membranous envelopment of pigmented blood corpuscles or pigment granules.

Subjects: BIOLOGY › Cell Biology, PATHOLOGY
  • 2613

Zur Entwickelungsgeschichte des Krebses.

Virchows Arch. path. Anat.1, 94-201, 1847.

While still a young man Virchow founded the above journal. He wrote a fine paper on cancer and suggested that the exciting cause is local irritation.

  • 2903

Ueber die acute Entzündung der Arterien.

Virchows Arch. path. Anat., 1, 272-378, 1847.

  • 12083

Mittheilungen über die in Oberschlesien herrschende Typhus-Epidemie.

Berlin: G. Reimer, 1848.

Virchow was one of the first to identify medicine as a social science. He developed a theory of epidemics that emphasized the social circumstances permitting spread of illness. This approach has been called sociological epidemiology. Virchow began this approach in this study of the 1848 typhus epidemic in Upper Silesia  He also applied similar perspectives to a cholera epidemic in Berlin and to an outbreak of tuberculosis in Berlin during 1848 and 1849.

Virchow's analysis of the epidemic emphasized the economic, social, and cultural factors involved, and clearly identified the contradictory social forces that prevented any simple solution. Instead of recommending medical changes such as more doctors or hospitals, he outlined a revolutionary program of social reconstruction, including full employment, higher wages, the establishment of agricultural cooperatives, universal education, and the disestablishment of the Catholic Church.

"For this research, Virchow argued that defects of society formed a necessary condition for the emergence of epidemics. Virchow classified certain disease entities as “crowd diseases" or "artificial diseases"; these included typhus, scurvy, tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera, relapsing fever and some mental disorders. According to this analysis, inadequate social conditions increased the population's susceptibility to climate, infectious agents and other specific causal factors - none of which alone was sufficient to produce an epidemic. For the prevention and eradication of epidemics, social change was as important as medical intervention, if not more so: "The improvement of medicine would eventually prolong human life, but improvement of social conditions could achieve this result even more rapidly and successfully."8 Health workers deluded themselves to think that effects within the medical sphere alone would ameliorate these problems. The advocacy of social solutions thus became the necessary complement of clinical work.

"The social contradictions that Virchow emphasized most strongly were those of class structure. For example, he noted that morbidity and mortality rates, and especially infant mortality rates, were much higher in working-class districts of cities than in wealthier areas. As documentation he used the statistics that Engels cited7 as well as data he gathered for German cities. Describing inadequate housing, nutrition and clothing, Virchow criticized the apathy of government officials for ignoring these root causes of illness. Virchow expressed his outrage about class conditions most forcefully in his discussion of epidemics like the cholera outbreak in Berlin:

Is it not clear that our struggle is a social one, that our job is not to write instructions to upset the consumers of melons and salmon, of cakes and ice cream, in short, the comfortable bourgeoisie, but is to create institutions to protect the poor, who have no soft bread, no good meat, no warm clothing, and no bed, and who through their work cannot subsist on rice soup and camomile tea... ? May the rich remember during the winter, when they sit in front of their hot stoves and give Christmas apples to their little ones, that the ship hands who brought the coal and the apples died from cholera. It is so sad that thousands always must die in misery, so that a few hundred may live well.

"For Virchow, the deprivations of working-class life created a susceptibility to disease. When infectious organisms, climatic changes, famine or other causal factors were present, disease occurred in individuals and spread rapidly through the community. ...(Waitzkin, H. "Classics in Social Medicine. One and a half centuries of forgetting and rediscovering: Virchow's lasting contributions to social medicine," Social medicine 1 (2006) Digital text available from at this link.

Digital facsimile from the Internet Archive at this link. Translated into English by L. J. Rather in Virchow, Collected papers on epidemiology and public health I (1985) 205-319.


  • 1268

Ueber eine im Gehirn und Rückenmark des Menschen aufgefundene Substanz mit der chemischen Reaction der Cellulose.

Virchows Arch. path. Anat., 6, 135-38, 1854.

Discovery of the neuroglia.

Subjects: NEUROSCIENCE › NERVOUS SYSTEM › Peripheral Nerves / Nerve Impulses
  • 3064

Ueber farblose Blutkörperchen und Leukämie. In his Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur wissenschaftlichen Medicin, pp. 147-218.

Frankfurt: Meidinger, 1856.

Includes his paper on “weisses Blut” (see No. 3062) and three later papers on leukemia. See No. 3006.

Subjects: HEMATOLOGY › Blood Disorders, ONCOLOGY & CANCER › Leukemia
  • 3169

Beiträge zur Lehre von den beim Menschen vorkommenden pflanzlichen Parasiten.

Virchows Arch. path. Anat., 9, 557-93., 1856.

First description of pulmonary aspergillosis.

Subjects: PULMONOLOGY, RESPIRATION › Respiratory Diseases
  • 3006

Thrombose und Embolie. Gefässentzündung und septische Infektion. In his Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur wissenschaftlichen Medicin.

Frankfurt: a.M., Meidinger, Sohn u. Co., 1856.

Reprints of papers published between 1846 and 1853. Virchow gave the first clear description of thrombosis and embolism (see especially Beitr. exp. Path.,1846, 2,227-380). This work was translated into English by A. C. Matzdorff and W. R. Bell as Thrombosis and Emboli (1846-1856), Canton, MA, 1998.

Subjects: CARDIOLOGY › CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE › Thrombosis / Embolism
  • 13248

Untersuchungen uber die Entwickelung des Schädelgrundes im gesunden und krankhaften Zustande und über Einfluss derselben auf Schädelform, Gesichtsbildung und Gehirnbau.

Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1857.

In his Investigations on the development of the base of the skull in healthy and diseased conditions, and on the influence of the same upon skull form, facial structure and brain formation Virchow laid the foundation for an anatomical treatment of craniology, identifying "as a problem for investigation the relationship between the shape of the skull, the facial structure and the formation of the brain. His conclusion was that all typical variations in facial structure rest chiefly upon differences in the formation of the base of the skull." (Arthur E. R. Boak, "Rudolf Virchow. Anthropologist and Archeologist," The Scientific Monthly, 13, 1921, 41.)

In this work Virchow also first described "Chordoma", a rare type of bone cancer, and "Platybasia", an abnormal flattening of the base of the skull. The work included 6 colored plates. Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link.

Subjects: ANATOMY › 19th Century, NEUROSURGERY › Neuro-oncology, ONCOLOGY & CANCER, PATHOLOGY
  • 2299

Die Cellularpathologie in ihrer Begründung auf physiologische und pathologische Gewebelehre.

Berlin: A. Hirschwald, 1858.

Virchow was the greatest figure in the history of pathology. His best work, Die Cellularpathologie, is one of the most important books in the history of medicine and the foundation stone of cellular pathology. The English translation, London, 1860, was reprinted several times in the 19th century, and in recent years. Virchow founded the Archiv für pathologische Anatomie und Physiologie (“Virchow’s Archiv”). Biography by E. H. Ackerknecht, 1953. See the annotated bibliography by L. J. Rather, A Commentary on the Medical Writings of Rudolf Virchow, San Francisco: Norman Publishing, 1990.

  • 2385

Ueber die Natur der constitutionell-syphilitischen Affectionen.

Virchows Arch. path. Anat., 15, 217-336, 1858.

Virchow’s great work on the pathology of syphilis confirmed the fact that it was a disease which involved all organs and tissues of the body and showed that the causal organism was transferred through the blood to the various organs and tissues. Issued as offprint, Berlin, 1859.

  • 2617

Die krankhaften Geschwülste. Vol. 1-3, Heft 1.

Berlin: A. Hirschwald, 18631867.

Although tumours were perhaps his greatest interest, Virchow never completed this work which was intended to have 30 lectures. Instead he stopped with the 25th lecture, on carcinoma, probably because of the vigorous attack which Remak and others were making on his conception of the histogenesis of epithelioma. Virchow’s 25th lecture records one of his mistakes – his theory of the connective-tissue origin of carcinoma. So great was Virchow’s influence that this error was not generally recognized until the work of Waldeyer (see No. 2620).

  • 1616

Ueber die Canalisation von Berlin.

Vjschr. gerichtl. öff. Med., n.F. 9,1-43, 1868.

Virchow advocated a canal sewer system for Berlin. Such a system was constructed by Hobrecht. See No. 1624.

  • 5376

Ueber den Hungertyphus und einige verwandte Krankheitsformen.

Berlin: A. Hirschwald, 1868.

Virchow was instrumental in introducing into Germany an epidemiology based on the study of multiple factors – sociological as well as bacteriological. In the above report on the reappearance of typhus in Berlin and East Prussia, he showed the connection between famine conditions and typhus outbreaks and strongly emphasized the social element in the generation of typhus. Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link. English translation, as On famine fever and some of the other cognate forms of typhus. A lecture for the benefit of the sufferers in East-Prussia. London: Williams and Norgate, 1868. Digital facsimile of the English translation from at this link.

  • 1617

Ueber gewisse, die Gesundheit benachtheiligende Einflüsse der Schulen.

Virchows Arch. path. Anat., 46, 447-70, 1869.

Improvements in school hygiene and the regular inspection of school children were brought about by the efforts of Virchow. English translation, New York, 1871. Virchow’s papers on public health were collected, annotated, and translated into English by L.J.Rather as Collected essays on public health and epidemiology, 2 vols., [Canton, Mass.,1985].

Subjects: Hygiene, PUBLIC HEALTH
  • 2172

Ueber Lazarette und Barracken.

Berl. klin. Wschr., 8, 109-11, 121-24, 133-35, 157-59, 1871.

On the best way of setting up military hospitals to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. For English translation see No. 1617 (note).

  • 2304

Die Sections-Technik im Leichenhause des Charité-Krankenhauses.

Berlin: A. Hirschwald, 1876.

On the technique of dissection. English translation, London, 1876.

Subjects: ANATOMY › 19th Century, PATHOLOGY
  • 176

Beiträge zur physischen Anthropologie der Deutschen. Mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Friesen.

Abh. k. preuss. Akad. Wiss. Berl. Phys.-math. Klasse, Abt. 1, 1-390., Berlin, 1877.

Virchow made an important survey of the physical characters of the German people. Outside pathology of which he was the Master, Virchow’s greatest scientific interest was anthropology.

Subjects: ANTHROPOLOGY › Physical Anthropology, COUNTRIES, CONTINENTS AND REGIONS › Germany
  • 12084

Gesammelte Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiete der öffentlichen Medicin und der Seuchenlehre. 2 vols.

Berlin: August Hirschwald, 1879.

Virchow "articulated that the moral goal of the political role of medicine was to become an active agent in eliminating social inequality" (Dorothy Porter, Doctors, the state and the ethics of political medical practice [2007]). Digital facsimile from the Internet Archive at this link.  Translated into English by L. J. Rather as Collected essays on public health and epidemiology. 2 vols. Canton, MA: Science History Publications, 1985.

  • 203.5

Crania ethnica Americana. Sammlung auserlesener Amerikanischer Schädeltypen. Herausgegeben von R. Virchow.

Berlin: A. Asher, 1892.

Subjects: ANTHROPOLOGY › Craniology
  • 6397

Die neueren Fortschritte in der Wissenschaft und ihr Einfluss auf Medicin und Chirurgie.

Berlin: A. Hirschwald, 1898.

English translation in Disease, life and man. Selected essays by Rudolf Virchow. Selected, translated, annotated, and introduced by L. J. Rather, Stanford, 1958.

Subjects: History of Medicine: General Works
  • 11199

A commentary on the medical writings of Rudolf Virchow by L. J. Rather.

San Francisco, CA: Norman Publishing, 1990.

An extensively annotated bibliography of all of Virchow's medical writings, but not including his many contributions to anthropology

Subjects: BIBLIOGRAPHY › Bibliographies of Individual Authors, PATHOLOGY › History of Pathology
  • 11406

Rudolf Virchow Sämtliche Werke. Herausgegeben von Christian Andree. 71 vols. anticipated.

Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1992.

From the number of volumes planned we may conclude that Virchow was one of the most prolific of all physicians. According to the Wikipedia article on Christian Andree, to which I have linked, volumes in this set were published by Peter Lang from 1992 to 1997, by Blackwell from 1999 to 2001, by Langen Müller in 2002, by Königshausen & Neuman in 2002, by Blackwell in 2003, and by Olms from 2005 to 2015. An Olms brochure which was available online when I wrote this entry in January 2020 indicated that Vols.1-29 would concern Medicine, Vols. 30-41 Politics, Vols. 42-58 Anthropology including Prehistory, Vols. 55 to 71 letters between Virchow and his contemporaries. In January 2020 it appeared that most, but not all, of the planned volumes were published.

Subjects: ANTHROPOLOGY, Collected Works: Opera Omnia, Medicine: General Works, PATHOLOGY, PUBLIC HEALTH