German physician and medico-historical writer; born at Danzig Oct. 4, 1817; died at Berlin Jan. 28, 1894. After having followed commerce for a few years, he began the study of medicine at the University of Leipsic in 1839, and completed his course of study at Berlin in 1843, when he received the degree of doctor of medicine. The following year he established himself as a physician in Elbing, West Prussia. Two years later he removed to Danzig. As it was his intention to enter the Anglo-Indian service as a surgeon, he gave special attention to geographic-pathological studies. The results of his researches were published in the "Hamburger Medizinische Zeitschrift" in 1848, under the title "Ueber die Geographische Verbreitung von Malariafieber und Lungenschwindsucht und den Räumlichen Antagonismus dieser Krankheiten." These investigations led him to historical pathology; his "Handbuch der Historisch-Geographischen Pathologie" (2 vols., Erlangen, 1859-64; 2d ed., 3 vols., 1881-86; translated into English by the New Sydenham Society, 1883) has become indispensable to military surgeons and practitioners in the tropics.
In 1863 he was called to the University of Berlin to fill the chair of medical history, which position he held until his death. In 1865 he was sent by the government to the Vistula districts in West Prussia to report on the epidemic there of cerebrospinal meningitis. His report was published under the title "Die Meningitis Cerebro-Spinalis Epidemica" (Berlin, 1866). During the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71) he was in charge of a sanitary train. The following year he joined with others in founding the "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Oeffentliche Gesundheitsptlege," of which he was president until 1885. In deference to his and Pettenkofer's representations, the government appointed an imperial commission on cholera. As a member of this body Hirsch was sent again to the Vistula. His official report, "Das Auftreten und der Verlauf der Cholera in den Preussischen Provinzen Posen und Preussen (Mai-September, 1873)," was reprinted separately (1874; 2d ed., Berlin, 1876). In 1878 he was the German representative at the international cholera congress in Vienna. In 1879 he was sent by the government with Sommerbrodt and Küssner to Russia to report on the prevalence of cholera in the government of Astrakhan. "Mittheilungen über die Pest-Epidemie im Winter 1878-79 im Russischen Gouvernement Astrachan" (Berlin, 1880) is their conjoint report.
From 1866 Hirsch acted with Virchow as editor of "Jahresbericht über die Fortschritte und Leistungen in der Medizin." From 1884 to 1888 he was one of the editors of the "Biographisches Lexikon der Hervorragenden Aerzte Aller Zeiten und Völker" (Vienna). He also contributed many medical biographies to the "Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie."
Hirsch was a prolific writer. Besides the foregoing works, he wrote: "Ueber die Anatomie der Alten Griechischen Aerzte" (Berlin, 1864); "J. F. C. Hecker: Die Grossen Volkskrankheiten des Mittelalters: Historisch-Pathologische Untersuchungen" (ib. 1865-66); "Ueber Verhütung und Bekämpfung der Volkskrankheiten" (ib. 1875); "Geschichte der Augenheilkunde" (Leipsic, 1877); "Geschichte der Medizinischen Wissenschaft in Deutschland" (Munich and Leipsic, 1894).
- Meyers Konversations-Lexikon;
- Hirsch, Biog. Lex.;
- Pagel, Biog. Lex.;
- Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie;
- Brockhaus, Konversations-Lexikon.