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6 April 2021, 10:01

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Photo by M. Denisov.

April 6 marks 185 years since the birth of the scientist.

On the occasion of Nikolai Sklifosovsky’s birthday, the Main Archive presented materials dedicated to the life and achievements of a doctor and scientist. Sklifosovsky’s surname has long become a household name. In medicine of the XIX century, his practical and scientific works made up an entire era.

The Glavarchiv has preserved especially valuable documents related to the study and teaching of an outstanding doctor at the Imperial Moscow University.

Love for Science and Silver Medal

Nikolai Sklifosovsky was the ninth child in the large family of the clerk of the Dubossary city police, titular adviser Vasily Sklifosovsky and his wife Xenia. The future doctor was born on April 6 (or March 25, old style), 1836. It is interesting that the surgeon’s surname is written in the birth certificate “Sklifasovsky”, but he himself always signed “Sklifosovsky”.

Little Nikolai’s interest in medicine could have arisen thanks to his father’s stories about his work. The head of the family took part in the work in the fight against epidemics of plague and cholera. This is evidenced by the preserved formal list of the service of Sklifosovsky’s father. It indicates that during the cholera epidemic in Dubossary in 1830-1831 he was on the Committee for Action to End Cholera and was engaged in the placement of patients. The document notes that the father of Nikolai Sklifosovsky with “the greatest philanthropy” supplied food to both the sick and the needy residents of the city.

The difficult financial situation forced the family to send their younger children to an orphanage. Nikolai’s parents passed away early. After that, the Odessa order of public charity took full custody of him.

In 1854 Nikolai Sklifosovsky graduated from the second Odessa gymnasium with a silver medal. This certificate is kept in the Moscow Glavarchiv.

Becoming a scientist

Further, Nikolai Sklifosovsky was expected to study at the medical faculty of the Imperial Moscow University. Payment for accommodation at the university, study and possible treatment of the young man in the hospital was assigned to the Odessa order of public charity. The maintenance of the future great physician cost 190 rubles a year. This information has been preserved in the documents.

In 1859 Sklifosovsky graduated from the university with a medical degree, and he was sent to serve in the Odessa city hospital. The last scholarship and a one-time travel allowance were late, and Nikolai had to write a petition to the rector for a loan from Moscow University. This petition was also preserved in the Glavarchiv.

Then Sklifosovsky had to work in the Odessa hospital, defend his doctoral dissertation, scientific trips abroad, teaching at the Imperial Medical-Surgical Academy and service as a surgeon in the existing Danube army during the war of 1877-1878.

In 1880 he became an ordinary professor at Moscow University, where he taught for many years. Later he was appointed director of the Imperial Clinical Institute for Physicians named after Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna.

The many years of work of a doctor and scientist were appreciated at Moscow University. In 1899, after 40 years of fruitful medical and scientific work, Nikolai Sklifosovsky became its honorary member.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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