Anders Johan Hagströmer’s First Publication

The first head of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, Anders Johan Hagströmer (1753-1830), after whom the Hagströmer Library is named, published his first work when he was only 18 years old. It was a 16-page pamphlet issued anonymously in 1770 and was a rather harsh criticism of the educational system for surgeons at the time. It was called Suggestion for a Better and Gentler Way of Teaching Surgery or External Medicine (Förslag till ett bättre och lindrigare lärosätt uti chirurgien, eller den utvärtes läkare-konsten). Hagströmer did not mince his words and the pamphlet was not well received. A 64-page scathing response, attributed to the president of the Society of Surgeons (Chirurgiska societeten) Herman Schützercrantz, refutes the young rebel’s views point by point.

Later in life Hagströmer wasn’t too proud of the language that he had used. A copy of Hagströmer’s diatribe is preserved in a thick composite half leather volume (a “sammelband”) containing 94 18th century medical works by various authors. On the title page of Hagströmer’s work it is written in his own hand at a later date: “by A. Joh. Hagström. Written during his time as a student at 18 years of age which may well be seen in the ignorant way of writing. This received strong criticism which was left unanswered” (“af A. Joh. Hagström. Skrifvit under dess läroår vid 18 års ålder som och väl märckes af det okunnige i skrifsättet. Häruppå utkom en skarp critique som ej besvarades").

However, already in 1771 the Swedish teaching system for surgeons was reformed after all …

Dan Jibréus, 11 May 2016

Franzén, Olle. ”Hagströmer, Anders Johan.” Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, XVII, Stockholm, P. A. Norstedt & Söner, 1967-69, 751-52.
Gadd, Ann-Sophie. Vem var Anders Johan Hagströmer? Stockholm, Hagströmerbiblioteket, 1999, 16.