Essays of Robert Koch

Essays of Robert Koch

Essays of Robert Koch

Essays of Robert Koch


Preface Introduction The Etiology of Anthrax, Founded on the Course of Development of the Bacillus Anthracis (1876) Investigations of the Etiology of Wound Infections (1878) On the Etiology of Anthrax (1881) The Etiology of Tuberculosis (1882) On the Anthrax Innoculation (1882) Critical Discussion of Publications Challenging The Significance of Tuberculosis Bacilli (1883) (Excerpts from) the Etiology of Tuberculosis (1884) Lecture at the First Conference for Discussion of the Cholera Question (1884) On Cholera Bacterial (1884) On Bacteriological Research (1890) Index


It would be superfluous to comment on Koch's influence in the development of modern bacteriology and medicine. Yet no collection of his essays has ever been published in English. My purpose in preparing this collection has been to correct this deficiency.

As I began work on this collection, my intention was simply to bring together several of Koch's most important and influential essays. But Koch wrote some two hundred items on a wide range of topics. I soon realized that sampling his best work in all these areas would produce a long volume containing essays that would seem almost unrelated to one another. I decided that a selection of related papers would best reflect the coherence and interconnectedness of Koch's thought. Once that decision was made it was relatively easy to focus on Koch's early bacteriological essays. Originally, I had intended to include some of Koch's writings on such purely technical topics as disinfection and the conservation of cultures; Koch was a master technician and these aspects of his work were extremely influential. However, virtually all of Koch's work was based on technical innovations, and his purely technical papers have less inherent interest than those in which his new methods were used to attack theoretical problems-- especially the preeminent theoretical problem of nineteenth century medicine: disease causation. Thus, I decided against including any papers that were exclusively elaborations of bacteriological techniques. It also seemed to me that a good sample of Koch's work on the etiology of bacterial diseases should include not only the initial presentation of his ideas, but at least some of his tenacious and devastating responses to critics. These are the considerations that guided me in selecting the ten essays that I have included.

Koch's studies of anthrax, wound infections, tuberculosis, and cholera are marvelous illustrations of experimental technique combined with theoretical insight. Taken as a whole, these studies are probably Koch's best work. Thus, while whole areas of Koch's research are not represented in this collection, the essays that are included provide an excellent sample of Koch's finest contributions.

In preparing these essays, I have given a great deal of attention to tracing Koch's sources. I have checked almost all of Koch's footnotes against the original publications; I have provided additional information when Koch's references were incomplete; and I have inserted new notes in many places where Koch alludes to earlier writers without himself giving bibliographic details. My notes and my additions to Koch's notes are all bracketed. Without special notice I have taken some of Koch's biblio-

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