Denmark – 1998

Report of the visit of the Danish Veterinary History Society to Hannover, Brussels and The Netherlands, 7-14 june 1998

Eleven members of the Dansk Veterinærhistorisk Samfund and their partners, together 19 persons, were on a study tour to the Low Countries. On their way to The Netherlands they first payed a visit to theTierärztliche Hochschule in Hannover. Here they were received by prof. E.-H. Lochmann and prof. J. Schäffer, who showed them around in the Veterinary Museum. During their stay in The Netherlands the group was lodged in a hotel near the Utrecht Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, from where all excursions were made.

On June, 9th, they were the guests of the Netherlands Veterinary History Society. In the morning a visit was paid to the Faculty. After a speech of welcome by the director of the Faculty, several museums and clinics were visited. After a lunch in the Botanical Gardens a visit was paid to the University Museum. The dinner party was cheered up by singing, accompagnied by piano, violin and trumpet, with the assistance of eight members of The Golden Trachea, a club of Dutch veterinary students.

On Wednesday, the European parliament in Brussels was visited, where a lecture was given by a Danish member of this parliament, followed by a lecture of Dr. Jørgen Westergaard, head of the Animal Health section of DG VI. On the next day two museums in Haarlem were on the programme: first the oldest museum in The Netherlands, the Teyler Museum dating back to 1784 with its very diverse collections of paintings, drawings, scientific instruments, fossils and minerals, medals and coins, followed by the Frans Hals Museum.

On Friday a visit was paid to Museum Boerhaave, the National Museum for the History of Sciences in Leyden, and to Panorama Mesdag in The Hague. A sight-seeing tour, guided by Paul Leeflang, brought the Danes not only to the buildings of the Dutch Parliament but also along an open air exhibition of 20th century sculptures and statues; among them two modern representations of Cheiron. A farewell dinner was held at the seafront in Scheveningen.

Survey of Veterinary History Teaching in the World

On request of the WAHVM prof.dr. J. Schäffer (Hanover) undertook a worldwide investigation into the actual status of veterinary history teaching. In June 1997 he has sent out a questionnaire to the deans of 231 establishments of veterinary education. The seven questions asked were the same as those used by prof. J.B. Mulder, when he surveyed the U.S. and Canadian schools in 1990 (see: J.B. Mulder. A survey of veterinary medical history instruction in United States and Canada schools. Veterinary heritage, 13(2), 58-62, 1990). The deans of these schools were, therefore, not approached a second time.

The questions were answered by 88 deans; the 11 answers that were negative in case of all 7 questions are left out in the following overview.

1/2. Formal courses are offered in 19 European, 1 Near Eastern and 1 Japanese school. But only in Germany, Poland, Romania and Turkey the course is required. And only 11 schools have a post financed out of the veterinary faculty budget. In six cases this is a full-time position.

3/4. 9 European, 1 African, 6 Asian and 1 South-American school are providing history teaching in the framework of other courses.

5. The question “Does your veterinary school library have a collection of books or a section dedicated to veterinary history?” may have led to some ambiguity. Sometimes it seems to be interpreted as the availability of an old book collection and sometimes as a collection of historiographical materials. But in most cases where the answer is negative, fruitful history teaching can hardly be expected.

Counting all answers received, plus two answered by Schäffer from own knowledge (n=90), 39 European schools stated that they possess a library that can support a history teaching programme and nine had to report negatively. The reverse is found in the rest of the world (without the U.S. and Canada); here only 14 positive answers are given against 28 negative.

6/7. Worldwide 39 veterinary schools have interest in adding a history course, but only 8 deans are of the opinion that it has to be a required course. As many of them complain of a lack of funds or find great difficulty to make room for such a course in the overfilled curriculum, much external support and persuasion power will be needed to carry the good intentions into effect.