The figure of Giuseppe Barellai – doctor, public health and political activist - imposed itself within Tuscan and national history of the second half of the Nineteenth century. A complex character, very renowned and highly respected by his contemporaries and also decades after his death, he has been so far, however, little studied, risking to fall into oblivion or to be appreciated only by a few specialists.
The war experience of Curtatone and Montanara and the years of imprisonment led him to renounce the activity of court physician in favor of the study of the prophylaxis of tuberculosis (of which he himself was suffering), especially in young people. In particular, he took care of scrofulous children for which no remedy existed until that moment. Climatotherapy, of which he soon became a fervent supporter, lead him to promote the foundation of the marine hospice of Viareggio, as well as many other similar institutions for children, especially in central-northern Italy. Barellai directed his commitment in the field of public health towards urban hygiene and health organization: well-known is his criticism of undifferentiated hospitalization and of the scarcity and poor condition of Tuscan healthcare institutions, which were inadequate for needs of the lower classes. Social engagement did not avert Barellai from dealing with issues of professional ethics, that led him to adhere to the first medical Mutual Aid Society.
The contributions are intended to highlight his medical and philanthropic skills, his tireless support to urban hygiene, his literary interests: in short, the figure of a man deeply involved in the political and social issues of his time.PDF format