“I really like the feel of these old, traditionally made books in my hands, they take me back to the past”, said dr. Judit Forrai (professor of the Department of Public Health, teacher of medical history) in the József Fodor memorial room of the Department of Public Health’s library which is located on the 21st floor of the Theoretical Building on Nagyvárad tér.
This place used to be only a library before. In 2005 dr. Anna Tompa, director at the time took the initiative to convert it into a memorial room with delightful period features honoring the founder of the institute. The furniture had been borrowed from the Hungarian National Museum. The microscope is the exact replica of the one József Fodor used during bacteriological examinations and blood analyses.
The unique book collection on hygiene, air, water and soil pollution is also part of the memorial room. Fodor founded the Institute of National Health in 1874 (second in Europe), after the Institute of Hygiene had been opened in Munich. Later he was appointed rector of the university.
In the hallways we can find original marble boards with József Fodor’s reliefs, glass containers with his diplomas, handwriting samples and photos commemorating events from the foundation years of the institute. Dr. Judit Forrai is on the same opinion as Goethe: „the history of science is science itself”. If we don’t know where we come from and what shaped us, we cannot identify our place in history.
Dr. Forrai thinks that everyone who works in the field of history is fascinated by books. She is also no exception, she feels blessed, whenever she has the chance to hold József Fodor’s books in her hands.
“Even the language of these old books is miraculous, one can follow the development of this profession through it”
added dr. Forrai.
Photo: Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University (the photos were taken before the pandemic)
Translation: Norbert Lukács