Fedor Erisman

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Erisman, Fedor Fedorovich


(also Theodor Erismann; real name, Friedrich Guldreich Erismann). Born Nov. 24, 1842, in Gontenschwil, Switzerland; died Nov. 13, 1915, in Zürich. Russian physician of Swiss origin. A founder of hygiene in Russia.

Erisman graduated in 1865 from the University of Zürich medical school, where he specialized in eye diseases. He came to St. Petersburg in 1869. In 1873–74 he completed his formal studies under M. von Pettenkofer. He published A Handbook of Hygiene (vols. 1–3, 1872–77), the first work of its kind in Russia. In the section “Occupational Hygiene, or Hygiene of Mental and Physical Work” (published separately 1877) he referred to Marx’ Das Kapital. In 1878 he supervised disinfection for the Russian army in Bulgaria during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78).

In 1879, Erisman came to Moscow, where together with A. V. Pogozhev and E. M. Dement’ev he inspected sanitary conditions in industrial plants in Moscow Province. The results were published in 17 volumes and two supplements. The work was used by Lenin and G. V. Plekhanov to criticize Narodnichestvo (Populism). From 1882 to 1896, Erisman held the chair of hygiene at Moscow University, which was reorganized as the Institute of Hygiene in 1890 and named in honor of Erisman in 1927.

Erisman solved several sanitation problems connected with the construction of water-supply systems, sewers, and irrigation systems. He also dealt with aspects of school hygiene, for example, the effect of classwork and classroom lighting on the vision of students and the rational construction of school furniture.

Erisman was dismissed from Moscow University in 1896 for defending medical students arrested by the police. He then moved to Zurich, where he became chief of the city’s health office in 1901. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland from 1897, Erisman was active in public affairs as well as in scientific research. He promoted women’s education and Russian zemstvo medicine.

Erisman founded a school of hygienists in Russia, which included G. V. Khlopin, P. N. Diatroptov, V. E. Ignat’ev, M. S. Uvarov, and S. F. Bubnov.


Izbr. proizv., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1959. (Contains bibliography.)


Bazanov, V. A. F. F. Erisman. Leningrad, 1966.
Petrov, B. D. F. F. Erisman. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.