Pirogov Congresses

Pirogov Congresses


congresses that were held by members of the N. I. Pirogov Memorial Society of Russian Physicians. The Pirogov Congresses were the most representative gatherings of prerevolutionary Russian physicians, bringing together for the first time representatives of all medical specialties. They were held regularly, approximately once every two years; a total of 12 regular congresses were held between 1885 and 1913. In addition, three emergency congresses were held, one in 1905 (called the Cholera Congress), one in 1917 after the February Revolution, and one in 1919. Two special Pirogov congresses were held, one in 1916, in connection with the war, and one in 1918, during which sharp differences of opinion were revealed among the members of the society with respect to Soviet power. The first Pirogov congresses were convened in response to an urgent need to coordinate social initiatives to develop medical care for the people and to organize a public health system in the country. These early congresses were a typical manifestation of the public health movements of the time. The congresses discussed the most timely social and medical problems of villages, cities, and industrial plants.

Approximately 2,000 to 2,500 delegates—that is, every tenth Russian physician—attended each Pirogov Congress, and 100 to 500 papers were read. Among those engaged in the work of the congresses were S. P. Botkin, I. P. Pavlov, N. V. Sklifosovskii, V. M. Bekhterev, and F. F. Erisman. The congresses reflected the ideological beliefs of most of the members of the Pirogov Society, and they were marked by the vacillation in political matters that was characteristic of the intelligentsia. During the revolutionary upsurge of 1905, the congresses neglected a rise in revolutionary attitude, and during the subsequent reaction medical problems were viewed as distinct from the general political situation. Finally, the congresses encouraged physicians to take part in acts of sabotage during the first few months of Soviet rule. The Bolshevik physicians who participated in the Pirogov Congresses, including S. I. Mitskevich, Z. P. Solov’ev, and I. V. Rusakov, helped persuade physicians to join the RSDLP(B) and sharply criticized the liberal, compromising ideas that were held by the upper echelons of the Pirogov Society. The Pirogov Congresses amassed a wealth of information on the development of medical science and practice in Russia.


Strashun, I. “Pirogovskoe obshchestvo, s”ezdy.” In Bol’shaia meditsin-skaia entsiklopediia, 2nd ed., vol. 24. Moscow, 1962. (Contains a bibliography.)