The article  ‘100 years Anniversary  of the first Lithuanian journal Medicine and Nature (Medicina ir gamta)’  is written by  Regina Vaišvilienė, The Lithuanian Library of Medicine (Lietuvos medicinos biblioteka)

From the history of Lithuanian Medicine

The social-political situation of the beginning of the 20th century, when the Lithuanian press ban was lifted in 1904, the social and cultural Lithuanian intellectual activities have expanded, the Lithuanian Scientific Society was founded in 1907, gave more benefit conditions for the development of Lithuanian press, for the uprise of the specialized press.

The foundation of the Lithuanian Scientific Society was the greatest impetus to the Lithuanian social and cultural development. When pursuing the goal that the activities of the Society would be more purposeful and fruitful, the activists of it made circles with certain science and activities directions. It was also an attempt to create a circle of doctors as well. One of the main organizers was Dr. Antanas Vileišis. When the Lithuanian Scientific Society was in a stage of creation, a group of doctors has prepared an appeal to Lithuanian doctors, inviting them to appear in the Constituent Lithuanian Scientific Society meeting: “There is a thought to establish medics circle near the Lithuanian Scientific Society that in the future might have a significant role in cultural life of Lithuania.< …>… we invite all our friends to come to Vilnius at the said day, <…> where we will be able to participate in the organization of the medical circle. <…> During the meeting the following questions shall be raised: a science papers, newspaper, medical popularization, readings, books, career issues, etc. (Vilniaus žinios (Vilnius news). 1907 March 15, (28) No. 59, p.1.). The appeal was signed by Aleksandras Rymas, Jonas Basanavičius, Andrius Domaševičius, Stasys Matulaitis, B.Burba, Antanas Vileišis.

Regrettably, the circle has not been established at that time. Only in 1911 during the General meeting of the Lithuanian Scientific Society the issue was raised again and it was decided to made a circle of doctors and pharmacists.

“The time has come finally to stir us, Lithuanian medics, cowleeches, dispensers and naturalists! <… > We have been thinking about publishing of the newspaper for several years already, the question is discussed for several years, but it has not been fulfilled yet. <…> We, the Lithuanian medics of Vilnius, have commited to our friends to assume responsibility to fulfill this expectative thing of everybody… <…> Ere long we plan to publish a certain newspaper with a name Medicina ir gamta (Medicine and Nature)”, – it was written in the editorial office committee invocatory of Lietuvos žinios (Lithuania news) in 1912 November 24. The appeal was signed by Dr. Jonas Basanavičius, Dr. Andrius Domaševičius, Dr. Vladas Laumianskis, Dr. Stasys Matulaitis, Dr. Jurgis Šlapelis, Dr. Antanas Vileišis.

In the summer of 1913 the long expectated the first Lithuanian Journal of Medical Sciences Medicina ir gamta has finally appeared . The editor-publisher of the newspaper Dr. Stasys Matulaitis has written in a foreword: “With this we start to publish the first medical, veterinary, pharmaceutical and nature sciences newspaper in Lithuanian. It is a new untested path. It is not possible to guess if it will be an easy or a hard way to go. <…> We have integrated all aforementioned science fields into one newspaper with regard to pragmatism. No one of these groups could afford to have their own newspaper.” (Medicina ir gamta. 1913, No. 1, p. 1.).

The organizers of the publication have foreseen that it will not be easy to do the job. It will demand hard work and finances. The editor Dr. Stasys Matulaitis has written in the foreword of the second number: “We expected to attain more interest when we started to publish the first medicine and nature newspaper in Lithuania. But it seems we must have another think coming <…> Two numbers of newspaper have been published hardly, but the third one will have to wait longer if such low interest shall last”. The editor have urged on to promote the newspaper “with money or manuscripts” (Medicina ir gamta. 1913, No. 2, p. 1).

The magazine was intended to appear every two months with the volume of one and a half quire. The original and translated articles were to be published, as well as the feuilletons from the society life, library-research papers, the reviews of the medications, practical recommendations, critique and bibliography, correspondence, chronicle, adverticements. The price was: year – 4 rubles., half of a year – two rubles. Separate number – 75 kopec. The K. Strazdas and A. Vėgėlė Publishing House in Vilnius has published the journal.

The five opinion pieces were published in two numbers of the journal. In the first number of the journal there were four articles of Lithuanian authors: P.Avižonis The prevalence of trachoma in Lithuania Minor and in Lithuania Major, V. Laumianskis Is this a link between adenoids and masturbation? A. Domaševičius From the gynaecology department in the St. Jokūbas hospital in Vilnius (to the question about the stopping of the passage of blood of the mother in a case of myoma) and S.Matulaitis Epilepsy treatment with bromine. The second number was filled with the articles of Dr. D. Bukantas: About the ruptures of the maternal passages with horizontal position of the fetus; About the casuistry related with the children cystic calculi; Homework persartum. There were also the article of J. Bagdanavičius From the medicine terminology and the article of S. Matulaitis Lithuanian terminology of anatomy, physiology, pathology and chemistry. “I want to draw your attention to the necessity to have a steady and well-established terminology in anatomy, physiology, pathology, chemistry and other sciences. <… > How low do we stand in our scientific terminology, it can be seen from the fact that we have not yet well-established names for elementary body parts from which nature science usually starts”,– wrote the author of an article.

Publication initiators and founders believed that this publication will combine scattered forces of the Lithuanian medics. Unfortunately, there is a record of the report of the doctors, pharmacists and naturalists circle session in which the relevant questions regarding activities were discussed, and which was the part of the 7th General meeting of the Lithuanian Scientific Society held in 1913, which confirms that there was a lack of finances and powers to maintain the organization properly. It was decided to convene the Congress of Lithuanian doctors, pharmacists and naturalists in 1914 and to discuss the issues of common interest in it.

War and turmoil in the coming few years detained Lithuanian doctors’ activities and only after Lithuania regained its independence again the first number of journal Medicina appeared in May of 1920. It was written in a foreword: “We continue the job of a newspaper Medicina ir gamta which was started before the war.<…> The question is “What can we give for you?” We will give you what and how much can give in medicine Lithuanian doctors. The newspaper will reflect what our doctors think and do”. (Medicina. 1920, No. 1, p.1).
The scientific historians reasonably regard this small journal as the first publication of Lithuanian medicine periodicals. It is regarded as a prelude to the professional medical press in Lithuanian.

Translated by Ingrida Bučionytė.