CARLANDER christopher (1778-1848)

Carlander was born in the small village of Yllestad in south-western Sweden. He came to study at Uppsala where he took his medical licentiate in 1786 and was in 1787 employed as a ship's doctor on an expedition to the Swedish colony St. Barthelemy in the West Indies. There he stayed for half a year building up a rich collection of botanical and zoological specimens. On his return voyage home in July 1788 the ship was captured by a Russian vessel outside Gothenburg. Deprived of all his belongings including his important natural history collections, he was put ashore in Copenhagen where he got hold of a red coat. Dressed in this red coat he was suspected to be a Danish spy when turning up in Gothenburg one month later. Among different positions Carlander held during 1788-1793 he was army surgeon for three years at the fortress Sveaborg in Finland, to which he walked over the ice of the Åland Sea. Returning to Stockholm he founded the Svenska Läkare Societeten, a prototype for the coming Svenska Läkare Sällskapet (Swedish Society of Medicine not founded until 1807). From 1793 and twenty years onwards he was town physician of Gothenburg, where he treated 25 000 patients during that period, an astonishing large practice. He often made 60-70 visits a day to see patients. In 1814 he returned to Stockholm and acted as Assessor to the Sundhetskollegium (The Royal Health Board). He had no practice in Stockholm but was often consulted by colleagues in difficult and despairing cases, for which Carlander never took any charge. He became quite an eccentric who went under the name of "the Doctor of Death" by people seeing him walking on the Stockholm streets called for to see a dying patient. People shivered "when seeing a small tiny old man with a stern, almost iron-hard face, black tails, boot-legs pulled over his pantaloons and gold-headed stick in hand" (August Blance). Carlander never married, his external appearance was far from beautiful and he lived in exemplary celibate. Despite war and prevailing blockade of import of books Carlander had good contacts and managed to assemble a great collection of foreign, especially English books. It was probably one of the richest medical book collections in private hands in Sweden. His donation of some 1700 books to the newly established Karolinska Institutet became together with the library of the Collegium medicum the basis of the Karolinska Institute Library, books that today are preserved in the Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library. As one of the most active collectors of medical books in Sweden and as Secretary of the Swedish Society of Medicine Carlander became its foremost introducer of new foreign medical literature. Malmsten, P.H. Christoffer Carlander, f.d. Assessor i Kongl. Sundhets-Collegium (1849); Josephson, C.D. in Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon, vol. 7 (1927), pp 317.325; Öberg, Lars (ed.) Brevväxling mellan Christopher Carlander och Pehr Afzelius 1789-1822. Sydsvenska Medicinhistoriska Sällskapets Årsskrift, Supplementum 14 (1991); Wijkström, Christer (ed.) Resan till S:t Barthélemy. Dr Christopher Carlanders resejournal 1787-1788. Anteckningar samlade och bearbetade av Sven Ekvall, färdigställda och utgivna av Christer Wijkström. 1979.