The history of the SGGMN/SSHMSN mirrors the development of the history of medicine and sciences in the 20th century. The society was founded in 1921, before the subject was institutionalized in Switzerland. The first secretary, the famous Henry E. Sigerist, described its aim as “to unite the historically interested physicians and scientists”.
Conferences and publications were the main activities from the beginning. From 1922 the series “Veröffentlichungen der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften“ was published, from 1990 to 2000 as Supplementa of the journal „Gesnerus“ (1943-2020). The foundation of „Gesnerus“ in 1943 was a mark of the solid basis of the subject in Switzerland which had after Germany (1908) and the USA (1933) and before England (1946), Spain (1949), Italy (1964), France (1967) and Holland (1978) its own national journal of international standards. Since 2021, and serving as a continuation of Gesnerus, the European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health is the official publication of the SSHMS. It is jointly edited by SSHMS and the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health.
With the creation of the Dr.-Markus-Guggenheim-Schnurr Foundation in 1962 the society obtained an important partner who pursued the same aims by organizing an annual public lecture and encouraging young scholars through the Henry-E.-Sigerist Prize.
The establishment of institutes of medical history at the Universities of Zurich (1951), Bern (1979), Lausanne and Geneva (1990) and of corresponding institutes or chairs of the history, theory and sociology of science in Zurich (1980), Geneva (1988), Bern (1999), Basel (2001) and Lausanne (2002) stood for the professionalization of the subject which is mirrored also in the actual structures and objectives of the society. It still aspires to “unite the historically interested physicians and scientists” but beyond that acts also as the professional association of the historians of medicine and science in Switzerland.