AIHP Digital Library Update: Drug Advertising Collections

AIHP recently added the James Harvey Young Drug Advertising Collection to the AIHP Digital Library. These ads are a valuable complement to the Mickey Smith Drug Advertising Collection that we posted to the Digital Library earlier this year. Together these two collections comprise around 250 separate ads.

The James Harvey Young collection consists mostly of direct mail ads that a practicing physician in Atlanta, Georgia, received from pharmaceutical companies throughout the 1950s. The ads cover a wide range of medical conditions and popular medicines prescribed at the time to treat these health problems.

Ad from the James Harvey Young
Drug Advertising Collection

Young was the Charles Howard Candler Professor of American Social History at Emory University in Atlanta. He taught there from 1941 to 1984. He is widely recognized for his research into patent medicines and quackery, and published two books on the subject: The Toadstool Millionaires: A Social History of Patent Medicines in America before Federal Regulation (Princeton University Press, 1961), and The Medical Messiahs: A Social History of Health Quackery in 20th Century America (Princeton University Press, 1975). He also made significant contributions to the history of food and drug regulation in the United States. In 1977 he was assigned to the FDA for several years to conduct research and publish his findings on the history of food and drug regulation in this country.

Young was a longtime AIHP member and was the recipient, in 1962, of the first AIHP Edward Kremers Award for his book Toadstool Millionaires. He died in 2006. By all accounts he was a beloved professor, mentor, and colleague.

The Mickey Smith Drug Advertising Collection comprises ads that were pulled from major medical journals during the 1950s-1980s: American Journal of Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, GP, Medical Economics, Medical Times, and Postgraduate Medicine. The ads cover medications prescribed at the time for anxiety due to stress, depression, nervous conditions, and serious medical problems. Some of the more high-profile medications represented are Miltown, Librium, and Valium. Professor Smith has been an avid collector of pharmacy ephemera for many years; he donated this collection of ephemera to AIHP in 2012.

Ad from the Mickey Smith
Drug Advertising Collection

These ads formed research for work Smith published on the marketing of drug products, including his seminal work Principles of Pharmaceutical Marketing (Lea & Febiger), which came out in 1969. This title went into multiple editions and has served as a textbook. He is widely considered to be a global expert on pharmaceutical marketing. Smith is a prolific writer, as well, and has authored over 20 books and hundreds of articles and book chapters; he also established three different peer-reviewed journals. His latest book, Government, Big Pharma, and the People: A Century of Dis-Ease (Productivity Press), came out in 2021.

Smith joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy in Oxford, MS, in 1966. He retired in 2003 as the F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Pharmacy Administration. Smith has also been a valued longtime member and friend of AIHP.

Both of these drug advertising collections offer a fantastic research opportunity: they provide an informative and compelling glimpse not only into the widely used drugs of the time, but also the many pharmaceutical companies then involved in drug manufacturing before the wave of consolidation that started in the 1990s. Both collections have been scanned and described in their entirety to best facilitate a comprehensive research level. Additionally, many of these ads cite contemporaneous published articles, providing an exceptional tool for further reading and inquiry.

Posted: May 6, 2022

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AIHP COVID-19 ProjectThe American Institute of the History of Pharmacy is documenting and preserving pharmacy stories and experiences during the COVID-19 global pandemic for the benefit of future historians and scholars. We seek to record the effects of this public health emergency on all types of pharmacy experiences. We invite you to share your pharmacy stories, photos, videos, artifacts, and other documentation of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.


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Upcoming events of interest to historians of pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, medicines, science, and related fields. (Event information current when posted. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, please double-check the status of all events): 


21-28 August 2022: 23rd International Congress of Historical Sciences, Poznan, Poland.


7-10 September 2022: 45th International Congress for the History of Pharmacy, Milan, Italy.


15-18 September 2022: 48th Congress of the International Society for the History of Medicine, Iasi, Romania.


18-22 September 2022: 80th FIP (International Pharmaceutical Federation) World Congress, Seville, Spain.


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