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Author: Toshko Petrov


The heritage of this important bulgarian scholar - founding member of the bulgarian school of hygiene and social hygiene - has been systematically deprecated by historians and documentaries in this country. We have already given some preliminary information on the state of hygiene science in the early phases of its development /cf., Slavkov, B. Hygiene /textbook for stomatological students/. Sofia: Nauka i Izkustvo, 1956, 688 pp/. Let us try to elaborate the story and give some additional details on the life and work of Prof. T. Petrov /1872-1942/.

Our schematic panorama will proceed with splitting the material on a chronological basis, these forming several periods of sequence activities:

First Period /1872-1898/: T. Petrov was born in the city of Lovech on 30 IV. 1872. From his father's side he originates in a family of tradespersons and merchants - viz., his father T. Benchev was a respected citizen in town and linked to diasporas in Tetovo (Macedonia). From his mother's side he comes from a family in Svishtov - viz., mother was A. Dasheva and was known to be a relative to famous bulgarian writer and ecologist Aleko Konstantinov. This early period in his life have found some reflections on the pages of an ethnographic anthology "Lovech and Lovechko District", comprising some 7 /seven/ volumes of articles and essays. This collection is out of scope from our study, but it did contained two important publications from Prof. T. Petrov - namely, "On the history of mineral spa at the village Slivek"; also, "Biographical Essay on jubilee memory of Prof. Stephan Vatev" /i.e., the latter is another compatriot from the city of Lovech, who has left important trace in bulgarian medical science - viz., with numerous contributions in the field of pediatrics, social care with Red Cross charity, anthropological studies, etc/. This early period of his life is precluded from his studies in medical fields and specialization in hygiene, however, we don't have access on any kind of a personal memoir or allied for his stay and studies in France.

Second Period /1898 -1919/: This period from T. Petrov's life is associated with his early carrier as a district physician. The discipline of sanitary and district health administration has been burgeoning at that time and a young doctor volunteered to work with organizational aspects of health. In this sense and Dr. T. Petrov appears to be the first bulgarian specialist with administrative carrier on a middle level of occupation. This is difficult to comprehend, yet it is important to mention and since it is the only way to fulfill an image of a self-educated scholar in a country where public health and hygiene were on the verge of their existence. So let us give a memo on his activities in a nutshell - viz., i./ Russe district from 1898 to 1901 ~ cf., "An account for the sanitary status of Russe district in year 1901 - Meditzinski Napredak, 1903"; ii./ Botevgrad (former city of Orchane) district from 1901 to 1909 ~ cf., "Sanitary-Economical description of Orchane district - Sbornik za Narodni Umotvorenia, vol. XXI, 1905, pp. 1-78"; iii./ Sofia municipality and city council service from 1909 to 1919 ~ cf., this period lacks documentary basis, but it is mentioned in alternative material that T. Petrov has been on service in the Bulgarian Army for almost a whole decade. It was a time for the Balkan Wars /1912-13/ and First World War /1915-18/ and this time he was mobilized as a sanitary major. Lastly on this chapter and we have found a very interesting article on the sanitary service in Bulgaria during the wars /i.e., "Yanulov, I. Social Policy in Bulgaria during the War in 1915-1918 - fasc. FO-1 from PSBAN, vol. LXII, 1941, 224 pp/. Most of the articles mentioned from this chapter are difficult to obtain and more work in the future is necessary on this topic.

Third Period /1919-1942/: Effective from 1 IV. 1919, T. Petrov is chosen for a titular and head of Department of Hygiene, Medical Faculty at Sofia University. By that time and he was the most prepared cadre for this job in a newly established Faculty of Medicine. The medical protocols from that time contain valuable information for his inclusion in the Alma Mater of Bulgarian science. As a matter of fact, Prof. T. Petrov occupied twice the most important position in this institution - viz., he was dean of the faculty in academic years 1920-21 and 1924-25; he was director of the Hygienic Institute at the Directorate of Public Health at the Ministry of Internal Affairs /i.e., this position was commensurate to his post as a head of department in the Medical University and by the privilege of title he occupied a chair in the Supreme Medical Council as well - viz., the latter political body was the utmost governing commission on health and medical problematic for the part of modern history in Bulgaria/. While being a chairman for the BDHPM /i.e., Bulgarsko Druzhestvo za Higiena i Prevantivna Medicina ~ transliteration is from bulgarian/, Prof. T. Petrov edited and published the most popular journal on hygienic matters in the pre-socialist period of the country - viz., "Revue Bulgare d'Hygiene" was issued for 12 consecutive years in the period from 1931 to 1942. A complete panorama of his various activities as a scholar and political mentor has been preserved from his numerous publications in book form during that period. Here is a list to some of them: "Chemical - Protein therapy in the course of septicemia infection" - Godishnik na Meditzinski Facultet, vol. III (1923-24), pp. 1-18; "Principles of nutrition" - Godishnik na Meditzinski Facultet, vol. V (1925-26), pp. 25-38; "Basic hygiene" - Izdanie na Studentsko Meditzinsko Druzhestvo, 1925, 186 + 767 pp; "On some clinical trials with anti-tuberculosis vaccine BCG in Bulgaria" - Letopissi na BLS, 1928, pp. 71-85; "Spas in Bulgaria" - Durjavna Pechatnitza, 1930, 68 pp; "Endemic plague in Bulgaria" - Godishnik na Meditzinski Facultet, vol. XI (1931-32), pp. 131-160; "Textbook of hygiene" - Universitetska Biblioteka № 123, 1933, 563 + 554 pp; "Manual on practical hygiene" - Universitetska Biblioteka № 181, 1936, 482 pp; etc. There are also numerous publications from the same author and of minor importance which are out of scope from this review. Prof. T. Petrov died during the wartime blockade of Sofia from english - american aircraft on 29 V. 1942. In Memoriam.

We have finished our short excursus on the life and activities of Prof. T. Petrov. Up until now, we have refrained from making commentaries on his books and literary heritage. However, this is an important part from the study and evaluation of this principal bulgarian scholar - namely, his writings are landmark publications for the development of hygiene science in this country. His textbooks have attracted many followers during the pre-socialist period. After the communist reformation and devaluation of empiric science in Bulgaria, subsequently have been made many attempts to surpass the achievements of T. Petrov. His name have been put into recess for a long period of time and have it not been for the transition to market economy and democratization, notwithstanding this short tribute to his lifetime shouldn't have been written.

Finally, let us say few words about the book at hand. This is the first and unexpurgated edition of his classical textbook of hygiene. It was published as lecture notes and as early as year 1925. Subsequently, it appeared in much enlarged and revised edition from the university library in year 1933. The importance of this book is beyond any doubt and we shall make every effort to present its contents with discussions in some of the next chapters of this booklist.


Picture 1: In the following note, we have included biographical data with some important publications from Prof. Toshko Petrov.

Biographical Note: Toshko Petrov was born in city of Lovech on 30 IV. 1872. He got his early education there-in-town. Graduated medicine in Geneva and Lyon /1897/. Has specialized in hygiene and preventive medicine from Toulouse and Paris /1905-1907/. Appointed to work as a sanitary physician in Teteven, Russe and Botevgrad (i.e., old time Orchane - namely, here is where his first sanitary description of the Orchane district was written as a report to the Directorate of Public Health). From 1919 to 1942, Prof. T. Petrof is with the Department of Hygiene, Medical Faculty - Sofia, where his activities are reflected in more than 85 publications during his academic career. He was Dean of Medical Faculty from 1920 to 1925. He was associate /1925/ and full member /1929/ of the Bulgarian Academy of Science (BAS). He was a founding member and chairman of the BDHPM /i.e., Bulgarian Association of Hygiene and Preventive medicine - transliteration is from bulgarian/ and editor-in-chief to Revue Bulgare d'Hygiene ~ Bulgarian Hygiene Review from 1931-1942. And he had many international recognitions, among other things in Paris, Rome and Berlin. Prof. T. Petrov died during the war in 1942.

Important Publications: "Spas in Bulgaria" - Durjavna Pechatnitza, 1930, 68 pp; "Textbook of hygiene" - Universitetska Biblioteka № 123, 1933, 563 + 554 pp; "Manual on practical hygiene" - Universitetska Biblioteka № 181, 1936, 482 pp; etc.


Copyright 2006 by the author.