It is not easy to trace back how and why the ILAE was started.
Apparently the first journal Epilepsia had been created, dedicated
to "the study of the pathology, therapy, and the social
and legal aspects of epilepsy and nervous disorders of the same
class." The periodical (appendix IV) first appeared under
the patronage of W. Bechterew, O. Binswanger, J. Hughlings Jackson,
L. Luciani, H. Obersteiner and F. Raymond. A year later F. DÃ©jÃ©rine
replaced Raymond and for the fourth volume Hughlings Jackson is
replaced by Sir William Gowers. Most of the early numbers of Epilepsia
were published by a consortium consisting of Scheltema & Holkema
(Amsterdam), Jacob Lund (Copenhagen), BailliÃ¨re & Fils (Paris),
Williams & Norgate (London), G.E. Stechert & Co (New York),
J.A. Barth (Leipzig), and Nordiska Bokhandeln (Stockholm). J. Donath
from Budapest and L.J.J. Muskens from Amsterdam were respectively
Editor-in-Chief (RÃ©dacteur-GÃ©rant) and secretary of the Editorial
Board (SecrÃ©taire de la RÃ©daction) for all five volumes, until World
War I put an end to this period. It is Donath and Muskens who took
the initiative, together with two physicians not associated with
the journal Epilepsia, i.e., J. van Deventer, like Muskens also
from Amsterdam, and A. Marie from Villejuif near Paris, to form
an International League Against Epilepsy. The event took place in
Hotel Bristol, Rue Valeria No. 460 (Donau room), Budapest (Hungary),
August 30, 1909 on the occasion of an International Congress of
At the first official meeting of the new organization on September
2, 1909, under the chairmanship of A. Tamburini, the ILAE at once
decided to employ the international periodical Epilepsia as its organ. It was further suggested that statistics of epileptics
should be procured from the different countries. National committees
were also appointed, i.e., Algiers, America, Austria, England, France,
Germany and Italy.
"Epilepsia appeared quarterly from 1908 till 1915 in
five volumes of four issues each, with 2,114 pages in all. There
were different editors throughout the years, but the following doctors
participated in the work through most of the years: H. Claude (Paris),
J. Donath (Budapest), L.J.J. Muskens (Amsterdam), A. Turner (London),
L. Bruns (Hanover), W. Spratling (Baltimore)."1
[NB: This citation where the dates for the first series of Epilepsia
are given as 1908-1915 emphasizes the precedence of the journal
with respect to the ILAE.]
There were also 10 to 14 editorial advisors (appendix IV). The
contributions were written either in French, German or English.
A paper was published in Italian only once. This was a paper by
M. Zalla2 from Florence who presented his experiences
with the use of Crotalin (Rattle snake poison) for the treatment
of epilepsy. This therapy was first discussed in Epilepsia by Ralph
H. Spangler3 from Philadelphia.
According to the editor of the 2nd series H.I. Schou4 in these early days
"Epilepsia contained a great number of original papers
on epilepsy and its treatment and reviews of the works of others
in the anatomical, surgical, biological, chemical, and clinical
domains. Moreover, in a number of volumes, there was a 'Bibliographia
Epilepsiae' collected for one year at a time and edited by F. Loeb."
The constitution of the ILAE was laid down in an English version
of 12 paragraphs and a German version of 13 paragraphs, which were
published in Epilepsia5 (appendix III).
A list of members comprising 45 persons and a list of national
committees of 16 different countries (appendix II) can be found
in the same issue.
On October 4, 1910, the second annual meeting of the ILAE was held
in Berlin under the chairmanship of A. Tamburini. This meeting was
held at the same place and about the same time as an International
Congress on Psychiatry and Psychiatric Institutions (Kongress fÃ¼r
IrrenfÃ¼rsorge und Anstaltswesen). Lectures on professional subjects
were delivered by Veith and Muskens.
The third annual meeting of the ILAE was held in Zurich, September
6 and 7, 1912 at the special centre for epilepsy under the chairmanship
of Dr Weeks. One of the scientific contributions was a paper by
the medical director of the centre, Dr A. Ulrich, about the importance
of a low-salt diet for the patients treated with bromides.
The fourth annual meeting of the ILAE was held in London, August
13, 1913 under the chairmanship of Dr Aldren Turner. The following
points are taken from the minutes of the board meeting6:
It was decided to admit into the League two classes of members:
the one class on payment of 25 frs. per annum to receive full
privileges with a copy of Epilepsia; the other class on payment
of 4 frs. to be designated associate members.
It was decided that the establishment of central bureaux for
research work on epilepsy, under the charge of the national committees,
was to be considered as to belong to the scope of these committees.
It was considered to hold the next meeting at Bern in September
1914, at about the same time as the International Congress for
Neurology and Psychiatry.
The first interruption
Owing to the outbreak of the war in August 1914, the fifth annual
meeting of the ILAE in Bern was not held. Furthermore, according
to Dr L.J.J. Muskens in his overview of "The ILAE in War
and Post-War Time: The proper finishing in 1915 of the fifth volume
of Epilepsia met with financial and other difficulties, but was
finally achieved."7 The World War I disruption
was quite prolonged. Though the international work of the ILAE had
been interrupted, the bureau of the secretary-general Dr Muskens
received repeatedly requests for advice on how to deal with the
vast increase in the incidence of epilepsy among the former combatants,
particularly from those countries where until then no special steps
had been taken to combat the disorder. These were, by the way, the
same countries where the national committees had been quiescent
during the first five active years of the league.
"It is needless to recall repeated steps taken by the bureau,
in collaboration with the American colleagues, to revive the international
campaign against epilepsy. Time was not ripe till the International
Neurological Congress of Bern 1931, when the bureau succeeded
in convoking a first meeting of the representatives of six or
seven different countries. On that occasion our voice ceased to
be a vox clamans in deserto, thanks especially to the contact
with our Scandinavian colleagues among whom of late the interest
in epilepsy has received fresh impulses."
It was decided during this meeting in Bern to try and reconstitute
the ILAE at the London International Congress in 1935, which congress
in honour of Dr J. Hughlings Jackson would have epilepsy as the
principal subject for discussion; in other words, a great number
of epileptologists might be expected. So indeed the ILAE started
its second period in London, in 1935.
The Second Period
Post-World War II