Argos 26 Summaries


The bibliography of Alexander Numan (1780-1852)

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the death of Alexander Numan, director of the Utrecht Veterinary School till 1851, a chronological list of his writings was compiled, supplemented with a subject index. The list encompasses his medical publications during his time as a general practitioner in Groningen (1804-1822). It shows the great diversity of his interests in the veterinary field, partly aroused by the problems of his time (e.g. contagious bovine pleuropneumonia or the need for a better quality of wool), partly by his personal scientific preferences (e.g. animal reproduction, teratology or parasitology). All publications were in Dutch. Those most appreciated by his contempories were translated. His pupil Séraphin Verheyen, professor of the Veterinary School in Brussels, made several of Numan's larger studies known to the French-speaking world. The periodicals for publishing his works were chosen after the nature of the subject or the intended readership. The results of his scientific investigations were chiefly published in the proceedings of The Royal Institute of Sciences etc. (predecessor of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences). If they were of an evidently applied character preference was given toTijdschrift ter bevordering van de nijverheid (Journal for the promotion of industry). The general educated reader was addressed in De algemeene Konst- en Letterbode (General messenger for the arts and literature) or a daily newspaper. The medium par excellence to communicate veterinary matters was his own creation, the Veeartsenijkundig Magazijn or its successor (nr. 100 and 100a in the list), that he edited from 1827 until 1849. 

Ph. M. Teigen
Counting Urban Horses in the United States
The number and distribution of domestic animals is fundamental to understanding the growth and development of the veterinary profession in any country at any time. In post-Civil War United States, for example, when its veterinarian surgeons founded professional associations and educational institutions, urban horses and mules formed the basis of veterinary practice. To understand the relationship between the veterinary profession and these urban animals, as well as their respective places in American history and culture, this essay introduces the concept of animal density to veterinary and urban history. Based on the distribution of horses and mules in forty-six large American cities before 1920, this study examines the impact of horses and mules on veterinary institutions, on the urban environment, and on the development of the anti-cruelty movement.

Symposium "180 years veterinary education in Utrecht, 1821-2001"
The start of a renewed curriculum in September 2001 gave occasion to review the changes that underwent the teaching programme since the beginning of the veterinary school. The 180 years were divided in periods of varying length. They were taken shorter as the changes to report had a greater significance for the present time. There were four speakers. Only the papers of the first three were available. 

P.A. KoolmeesAims and evaluations of veterinary teaching in Utrecht, 1821-1925.

The theme was approached by asking which position the veterinary school, at its start, had taken in the powerplay on the market for veterinary services. At the demand side was the government and the society, i.e. the animal owners. The supply side showed a great variety of people willing to offer veterinary services (farriers, cowdoctors, herbalists etc.). The government and the animal owners demanded from the school practical training, leading to economic profit. 
In this framework questions were posed regarding the changing aims of the veterinary education in the course of time, its outcome and its evaluation by the government, the society, the teachers and the students.
The following four periods were distinguished:
1821-1851: The promisingl start followed by depression
1851-1874: From reorganization until legislation
1874-1918: Amelioration of the professional perspectives; broadening of the scientific basis; university status
1918-1925: From Veterinary College to Faculty of the University.
The school started with three professors, a veterinarian for clinical work and a farrier. Together they teached 16 subjects, six were theoretical and ten practical. In spite of this, the education was considered too theoretical. Most of the graduates were not able to compete with the empirists. In 1846 a majority of 712 empirists stood against 111 qualified veterinarians, unprotected by any law. In 1860, only 20% of the veterinarians could earn a living from their practice. The profession lost its attraction and the number of candidates fell down. Also the funding of the school was in danger, because the school was financed from the same fund which had to provide for indemnification for losses of cattle died from 'lung disease' (contagious bovine pneumonia). The answer of the government was cutting the schoolbudget to the half, lowering the status of the teaching personel (no longer professors, but teachers) and emphasizing that teaching practical abilities had to be the primary goal. 
After a disastrous outbreak of rinderpest in 1865, in the end controled by stamping out under the guidance of one of the teachers, the parliament approved the laws for a State Veterinary Service (1870), for the regulation of the profession and the school (1874). Free practice of empirists was curbed since then. The School could unfurl again, the more so because scientific developments opened new vistas for better therapies. Veterinaians began to enjoy the confidence of the farmers and gained a permanent position in society. It can be said that their social emancipation was completed in 1918 when the School reached university status. At that time the Veterinary College had 14 professors, nine associate professors (readers, prosectors or conservators). It was understood now that veterinary education had to answer the demands of practice and of science as well. The life of the autonomous Veterinary College was only short; because of the government's retrenchment policy it was incorporated into the State University at Utrecht in 1925.
In the second part of this lecture a report is given of the comments by the students on the teachers/professors and their teachings as published in the student's Veterinary Almanac, 1887-1925. In the third part the demands of the students by the School or its staff is analyzed. Next to imposing rules of conduct, the professors often played a protective role or showed a real solicitude for the moral health of their pupils. The last issue discussed is how far a general academic education can be combined with the training for a profession directed towards practical results. Traditionally, professors urged to a scientific approach and some of them stimulated the cultivation of a general academic attitude, but this endeavour mostly did not meet the market-oriented expectations of the students. The 'leitmotiv' of veterinary education during the period concerned has always been to find an equilibrium between practical and theoretical training.

J.F. Frik. From veterinary student to Doctor Vlimmen, 1925-ca. 1960 

The main characteristic of this period was that the curriculum was built according to academic disciplines, and that clinical training was directed towards the individual patient, based on a sound knowledge of the healthy animal.
Within the pre-war period the first years as a faculty asked for adaptations, on all levels, to the structure and life of the university; the governing body was no longer the Ministry of Agriculture, but the board of governors of the university. The greatest change after the seven glorious years of the Veterinary College was the loss of the chairs for the basic sciences (physics, chemistry, botany and zoology). These propaedeutic disciplines were now teached by professors of the Science Faculty. Then followed the economic depression in the Thirties, that did'nt leave much room for new developments. World War II formed a real breaking point in the period under review; mobilization, 'Arbeitseinsatz', hiding or resistance, followed by a time of shortage of all necessities of life, brought ultimately nearly a standstill of faculty life. The postwar period was one of recovery and advancement. For the time being, the pre-war curriculum was continued. But new subjects were added following the expansion of the sciences and new demands from society. The length of the period of study increased from five to 5½ year in 1927 and to six years in 1940. But for all that, it appeared impossible to follow all compulsory clinical work in the official time. Although the pre-war standard of ten months clinical work was reduced to 33 weeks, the curriculum remained overcrowded.
Five examinations were held. Only that after the first year was in writing, the other were taken orally. An overview is given of the distribution of the examination subjects, and the changes in the course of time.
On the basis of interviews, held with 54 veterinarians, who qualified before 1950, characteristics of the professors were presentend, and some anecdotes as well. 

A.W. Kersjes. A critical phase in the development of veterinary education. Democratization and restructuring, 1965-1985.

The need for changes in the veterinary curriculum was made evident at a congresses in 1964 and 1966, held by the Royal Netherlands Society of Veterinary Medicine (abbr. in Dutch: KNMvD). It was clear that intensive animal husbandry asked for a new approach with emphasis on disease prevention and public health aspects. Also change was foreseen in the practice of companian animal medicine, that demanded a larger degree of specialization. In the meantime staffmembers of the faculty had prepared proposals for a differentiation in the curriculum; next to a clinical variant, two others should be offered, one in public hygiene and another, called the free variant, preparing for functions in scientific research. The implication would be that only students qualifying after clinical training would be licensed to practice and call themselves dierenarts. The curriculum would consist of a common phase of 4,5 year and a differentiated phase of 1,5 year. This proposal was not followed by the council of professors. They chose for a shorter period of only a 0,5 year of differentiated training and a common certificate for all graduates. The discussion on the longer or the shorter differentiation period would occupy the faculty in the years to come, because other parties were involved as well. Firstly the KNMvD, not willing to accept splitting up the corps vétérinaire in members with separate qualifications, and the Ministry of Education, issuing numerous innovation plans for the universities as an answer to the continuing revolts taking place. 
An unexspected growth of the number of first-year students (from an average of 180 to 240 in 1968) complicated matters further. Negotiations with the Ministry on increase of staffing and on regulation of the number of entering students led to inadequate results in the former, and to fairly late results in the latter case. In 1974 a numerus fixus of 150 first-year students was agreed upon. In 1976 this number was increased to 175, but the number of applications often was more than thousand. A notary public had to assign the places by lot.
A new law for the adminsitration of the universities brought the long awaited democratic structures in 1971. The first chosen faculty board undertook an innovative step by inviting the accrediation committees of the American and Canadian Veterinary Medical Associations (AVMA and CVMA) to judge the quality of the education provided. The result was that in 1973 the diploma of the Utrecht Veterinary Faculty was the first outside USA and Canada that was recognized. Septennial visits have confirmed this status since then. 
It lasted until the course of 1982-'83 before a new curriculum could be introduced that found approval of all parties concerned. In accordance with the law that prescribed standards for the length of university studies with a diploma after four years, the following scheme was designed: four years for the doctoral phase, followed by 1.3 year of a common programme (24.5 weeks theortecal and 31.5 weeks practical education) and 0.7 year, where a choice has to made between large animal medicine and animal production or companian animal medicine (both 29 weeks). The end-diploma shall be formally the same, but the competences for practicing would be different. People wanting to change their occupation will have to follow training again to become competent in another sphere of activites.

P.A. Koolmees
'Animals, vets and vermin in medical history'. Report of a conference, held in Norwich, England, 28-29 April 2000.
Summaries of sixteen lectures are given , that were presented at the conference cited above. The conference was organized by prof. dr. Roger Cooter, director of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Eleven speakers came from the U.K., two from the USA, and one each from France, Germany and The Netherlands. The idea of the convener was to bring together people, that study veterinary history subjects from various disciplinary backgrounds. For most of them the chosen topic belonged to a medical history problem. There was only a loose connexion among the topics. The common ground of veterinary history and the history of the life and social sciences became evident. The primary aim of the conference was to survey this wide area and stimulate contacts between the participants.