Carl Edvard Marius Levy

Carl Edvard Marius Levy

Infobox Scientist
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birth_date = September 10, 1808
birth_place = København (Copenhagen), Danmark
death_date = December 30, 1865
death_place = København (Copenhagen), Danmark
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nationality = Danish
ethnicity =
field = Obstetrics, Pediatrics
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Professor, Dr. Med. Carl Edvard Marius Levy (sometimes spelled "Carl Eduard Marius Levy" or in foreign literature "Karl Edouard Marius Levy") was professor and head of the Danish Maternity institution in Copenhagen (Fødsels- og Plejestiftelsen).

Levy graduated 1831 from Copenhagen University in Medicine and surgery. Received the university gold medal in 1830. Licentiat (PhD) degree in 1832. Doctorate degree in 1833. He then embarked on a three-year scientific journey which took him to France, Italy and England. Professor extraordinarius in obstetrics in 1841, professor ordinarius in 1850.

He founded the monthly medical journal: Hospitals-Meddelelser [Orbituary p125] . He also founded the Doctor's Association Den Almindelige Danske Lægeforening in 1857, which he headed until 1859. He suffered and eventually died from a heart defect.

Member of the Jewish church [Biography p255. Translated from: "mosaiske Trosbekjendelse"] but converted to Christianity [Biography p256] in 1840-1841 in order to pursue an academic career.

According to his biography, rampant epidemics of childbed fever at the Copenhagen maternity institution tested his ingenuity and determination. Repeated closures of the institution and the creation of interim locales proved fruitless. After a study tour to England and Ireland in 1846 he completely rebuilt and reformed the maternity institution, however with unsatisfactory results. [Translated from the biography p 257 (in Danish): "Barselfeberens fortsatte voldsomme Hærgen i Fødselsstiftelsen uafbrudt maatte holde ham i Aande og sætte hans Opfindsomhed og Handlekraft paa Prøve. Gjentagen Lukning af Fødselsstiftelsen og Oprettelsen af interimistiske Hjælpelokaler viste sig frugtesløse, og efter at han ved en Rejse til England og Irland i 1846 havde gjort sig bekjendt med de derværende vel ansete Fødselsstiftelsers Indretning, skred man da under hans Ledelse til en fuldstændig Ombygning og Reorganisation af vor Fødselsstiftelse, men ogsaa kun med utilfredsstillende Resultat. "]

Professor Carl Braun in Vienna said about the Copenhagen hospital, that "because this is the most appropriate and noteworthy newly constructed maternity hospital, in which every step has been taken to halt puerperal fever epidemics, we allow ourselves to estimate that in this new building under Levy's direction no puerperal fever epidemics will occur." [Semmelweis (1861):187]

Professor Levy was an outspoken critic of Ignaz Semmelweis' ideas, that childbed fever was an iatrogenic disease. Semmelweis theorized that decaying matter on the hands of doctors, who had recently conducted autopsies, was brought into contact with the genitials of birthgiving women during the medical examinations at the maternity clinic. Semmelweis proposed a radical hand washing theory using chlorinated lime, now a known desinfectant, and demonstrated dramatic reductions in mortality rates. In a rather infamous concluding remark [cite journal | last = Levy | first = Karl Edouard Marius | | title = De nyeste Forsög i Födselsstiftelsen i Wien til Oplysning om Barselfeberens Aetiologie | journal = Hospitals-Meddelelser | volume = 1 | pages = 199-211 | date = 1848 . A translation was published in Germany by Gustav Adolf Michaelis in 1850, (cite journal | last =Levy | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Gebärhäuser und der praktischen Unterricht in der Geburtshülfe | journal = Neue Zeitschrift fur Geburrskunde | volume = 27 | issue = | pages = 392-449 | date = 1850 Semmelweis (1861):137, translator Carter's footnote 18 p 137. ] , Professor Levy writes:

These are my impressions of Dr. Semmelweis's experiences; for these reasons I must judge provisionally that his opinions are not clear enough and his findings not exact enough to qualify as scientifically founded. [Semmelweis (1861):186 (translated by Carter, possibly from a German translation)]

The above translation is rather benign compared to the punch in the original Danish quote. [the original quote is (in Danish):".. at, så vidt de endnu foreligge, hans Anskuelser synes for uklare, hans Iagttagelser for flygtige, hans Erfaringer for usikre, til deraf at udlede videnskabelige Resultater.", which would translate into: ".. that insofar as they are laid out [*] his [Semmelweis'] views appears too unclear, his observations too volatile, his experiences too uncertain, to deduce scientific results therefrom." The sentence before *) could perhaps be translated to the meaning "I must judge provisionally (that) .." The original text is available (in Danish) as a as well as in .] For more of his criticism, see Semmelweis' ideas rejected as unscientific.

ee also

* Two-page obituary published in Illustreret Tidende, Årgang 7, Nr. 328, 07/01-1866 from which the picture is sourced. Citation
last =
first =
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title = Professor Dr. med. Levy
journal = Illustreret Tidende
volume = 7
issue = 328
pages = 125-126
date = 7th January
year = 1866
url =
doi =
id =
. Pdf versions of pages available [ here] , and [ here]

* Entry in the Danish biography (1887-1905) Dansk biografisk lexikon (in Danish). Available online. Levy's biography is in Volume X, page 255 and onwards, see [ here] and onwards.

* There is an article on his life and achievements in the Swedish Wikipedia (in Swedish). The Swedish wiki entry is based on the Danish biography, with wiki-links to related persons.


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