Towards the implementation of the smallpox vaccine in France

Hallé, Jean Noël, French physician (1754-1812). Autograph letter signed.

[Paris], 20. IV. 1812.

8vo. 1 p.

 400.00

To an unnamed colleague, asking him for a detailed list of "observations of consecutive or simultaneous accidents" that occured in connection with vaccinations (cowpox inoculation) and "previous illnesses" of the respective patients for a report: "Je vous ai demandé un relevé des observations relatives aux accidents consécutifs ou simultanés qui ont pu se rencontrer avec les vaccinations, afin d’avoir un rapport quelconque de ces cas, avec ceux qui n’ont rien offert de péril. Il me faudrait également un état des maladies antérieures à cette inoculation qui ont pu être améliorées ou guéries par son effet. Tous ces objets sont importans et même essentiels au complément de mon rapport. Soignez, je vous prie, ces relevés a celui, bien plus court, des varioles qui ont preferences [?] à la vaccination [...]".

Hallé was a member of the "Comité Central de la Vaccine" that had been founded in 1800 on a private initiative in order to study and implement the cowpox inoculation, following Edward Jenner's famous experiment. The fascinating letter refers to a committee meeting "Comité du 20 Avril 1812", suggesting that the recipient was another member, perhaps Joseph-Ignace Guillotin. The first broad vaccination programme in France began in 1820. François Alexandre Frédéric de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt served as an honorary member to the committee, as he was an important promoter and financier of the vaccine in France.

Apart from his role in studying and popularizing the smallpox vaccine, Jean-Noël Hallé was the president of the Académie des sciences in 1813 and served as Napoléon's private physician. Hallé was co-editor of the 1813 "Code des médicaments" and a pioneer of hygienic reform in France. In 1794 he came to the defence of Antoine Lavoisier (1743-94) when the latter was tried for treason before the National Convention.

Several minor tears.

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