HHH receives generous gift from Cosmas and Damian foundation

Frank Huisman

Last month, I was in for a pleasant surprise: I was called by Godelieve van Heteren, board member of the Cosmas and Damian Foundation in Nijmegen. The board of the Foundation had decided to dissolve itself and spend its funds in the spirit of its former chairman Daniël de Moulin. History, Health & Healing received a sum of 4000 euros, to be spent on its activities in the field of medical history. We are very pleased with this donation, and keen on spending it well: starting this fall, we will organise an annual Daniël de Moulin lecture in his honour.

Who was Daniël de Moulin?

Daniël de Moulin

Daniël de Moulin (1919-2002) was a surgeon and a professor in the history of medicine with a special interest in the history of surgery and the medical history of the Dutch East Indies. He was born in Buitenzorg, Java, as the eldest son of Albertina Kroon and Frederik de Moulin, who taught at the Veterinary School. Shortly after starting his medical studies at Utrecht University, war broke out. De Moulin refused to sign the declaration of loyalty and joined the resistance. In 1943 he received a military training in England, after which he joined the Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL) to fight the Japanese on New Guinea. His diary on this episode was posthumously published as Wij zijn niet bang, tenminste, niet erg (2015, translated into English as Escaping occupied Europe).

In 1946 De Moulin resumed his medical studies, which he finished in 1950. He specialised in surgery and worked first as a general surgeon in Tilburg and Boxtel, then also as a lecturer in surgery at Nijmegen University. In the meantime, he developed a special interest in the history of surgery, resulting in a cum laude for his PhD thesis on medieval surgery, De heelkunde in de vroege middeleeuwen (1964). After serving as chairman of the Dutch science society Gewina, he was appointed first lecturer (1971) and then full professor (1980) in the history of medicine at Nijmegen University. Taking the history of medicine very seriously as an academic discipline, he decided to end his clinical work, so he could fully devote himself to teaching, research and supervision of (PhD) students, among whom A.H.M. Kerkhoff, A. de Knecht-van Eekelen, W. Veltheer and E.S. Houwaart.

Keen on professionalising and institutionalising the field, his Medical History Institute (IGG in Huize Heyendael) was the crowning glory of his work. Together with his colleague G.A. Lindeboom (Amsterdam), he tried to put the history of medicine on the map. Later on, they were joined by A. Luyendijk-Elshout (Leiden), P.J.  Kuijer (Groningen), M.J. van Lieburg (Amsterdam) and H. Beukers (Leiden), together establishing the consilium medico-historica, which was intended to ‘infiltrate’ the medical curriculum.

In 1984, De Moulin initiated Scripta tironum, a book series in which the most important theses of his students were published. As an author, he published A short history of breast cancer (1983) and A history of surgery. With emphasis on the Netherlands (1988), and edited Kracht en stof. De introductie van moderne natuurwetenschappelijke denkwijzen in de geneeskunde, zoals blijkt uit Nederlandse medische vakbladen, 1840-1870 (1985) and ‘s Rijkskweekschool voor militaire geneeskunde te Utrecht (1822-1865) (1988).

Fate struck in 1988 when De Moulin was on a research trip in Baltimore, visiting colleagues at Johns Hopkins University. During an early morning walk, he was assaulted and mugged, resulting in severe brain damage from which he never recovered. When he was forced to take early retirement, his colleagues decided to honour him with a symposium devoted to the topic closest to his heart. The proceedings were published as Dutch medicine in the Malay archipelago, 1816-1942 (1989).

Godelieve van Heteren took over teaching in medical history in Nijmegen, until she left to become a member of Dutch parliament in 2002. The Medical History Institute merged into a new department of the Medical Faculty: Ethics, Philosophy and History of Medicine (EFG), chaired by Henk ten Have. To compensate for the loss of a medical historian and to honour De Moulin who had died five years earlier, the Nijmegen History Department decided to establish the Medical History Club D. de Moulin in 2007 in order to boost the interest in the discipline by organising monthly lectures. While the Club is still active, the Foundation decided to dissolve itself. To commemorate De Moulin, the board of History, Health & Healing has decided to initiate an annual Daniël de Moulin lecture, to be held during our fall meetings.

– Wim Dekkers, ‘De geschiedenis van ethiek, filosofie en geschiedenis van de geneeskunde’ (versie juli 2020): https://www.radboudumc.nl/getmedia/af753b87-6fb1-4a4f-a621-170868946fef/Kroniek_IQHealthcare.aspx (28-3-2022)
– M.J. van Lieburg, ‘In memoriam Prof.dr. D. de Moulin (1919-2002)’, Gewina 25 (2002) 128-135.