Kremers Reference Files

Artifacts and photographs in the Kremers Reference Files. Edward Kremers is shown seated on the far right in this picture of the UW School of Pharmacy class of 1886.

The Kremers Reference Files (KRF) is the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy’s primary on-site research collection. Originally compiled by pioneering historian of pharmacy Professor Edward Kremers for his unpublished Encyclopedia of Pharmacy, the KRF has since been maintained by Directors of the AIHP, including George Urdang, Glenn Sonnedecker, John Parascandola, and Greg Higby.

This vertical file collection contains materials of all kinds that cannot readily be organized on library shelves. Collected since the late nineteenth century, mainly for historical value, the Kremers Reference Files are primarily pharmaceutical in nature, although they also include a small amount of material on related sciences and professions. Geographically, they are American in emphasis, but they are also international in scope since they contain a wide range of information on other countries.

A vintage  c. 1895 Parke Davis Materia Medica cabinet in the Kremers Reference Files.

The Kremers Reference Files is a unique historical collection in pharmacy, containing materials from 1850 onwards in the form of letters, laboratory records, minute books of organizations and other organizational records, prescriptions, pictures, photographs, pamphlets, circulars, reprints, broadsides, advertising, biographical materials, examples of pharmaceutical literature, price lists, company reports and brochures, artifacts, ephemera, and other similar material.

A selection of Eli Lilly Publication from the Kremers Reference Files (C38 (a) I – Eli Lilly)

The KRF collection is housed in legal-sized file drawers (about 950 linear feet of material), in labeled folders, arranged according to the KRF classification scheme. Materials too large to file in the standard filing cabinets are housed in a separate oversize cabinet. In addition, pictorial or other predominantly iconographic materials are filed in a separate section of the files designated as “P”, except for portraits of individuals, which are found in the biographical section “A2.”

The KRF collection contains some interspersed manuscript material, but the Institute’s principal accumulation of American pharmaceutical manuscripts is housed in the AIHP Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Read the full Kremers Reference Files Classification Scheme (.pdf).

Read a brief list of topics in the Kremers Reference Files (.pdf).

Nearly 10,000 names from the Kremers Reference Files Biographical Section (A2) have been entered into the University of Wisconsin Libraries’ electronic card catalog. On the UW library’s advanced search page typing “KRF A2” in the “Call Numbers” filed will limit searches to material in the KRF’S A2 Biographical section. Folders from the rest of the collection have not been electronically cataloged.

Researchers may access the Kremers References by appointment.

To visit the Kremers Reference Files or for reference assistance please email: research@aihp.org


Rights Information

The American Institute of the History of Pharmacy does not hold the copyright to most of the material in the Kremers Reference Files. Some of the material in the Files was published before 1923 and is in the public domain. Others items in the Files were produced after 1923 and may still be subject to copyright. The American Institute of the History of Pharmacy can make digital or photocopy reproductions of material from the Kremers Reference Files for the personal and educational use of researchers and patrons. The American Institute of the History of Pharmacy can not provide further permission to reproduce, redistribute, or republish materials in the Kremers Reference Files. Copyright assessment is the responsibility of researchers who make use of the Files. Researchers must determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when republishing or reproducing material from the Kremers Reference Collection.

Fostering the creation, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge concerning the history of the pharmaceutical field.
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