AIHP and UW School of Pharmacy Announce Digitization Project

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The American Institute of the History of Pharmacy and the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy are excited to announce a partnership with the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center (UWDCC) to digitize portions of the historical collections housed in Rennebohm Hall. UWDCC has provided digitization services since 2001 and has made available more than 50 subject-based collections that include more than 2,000,000 pages and 200,000 images. AIHP and the UW School of Pharmacy will digitize parts of the UW/AIHP Pharmaceutical Trade Catalog Collection and the AIHP Drug Topics Photograph Collection.

The “Medicines, Modernity, and Capitalism” digitization project is slated to begin during the summer of 2020 and will continue in phases until about 2027. The project will provide online access to important AIHP and UW–Madison School of Pharmacy historical sources that document changes in pharmacy practice, the pharmaceutical industry, public health, drug advertising, mass consumption, and many other late nineteenth-century and twentieth-century topics.

AIHP Assistant Director and Head Archivist Greg Bond said that Institute “is excited to be able to increase access to these rare and hard-to-find resources.” Bond noted that “currently, researchers must visit Rennebohm Hall to use these collections, but, once the digitization project is finished, people will be able to view these items online from anywhere in the world.”

A portion of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy/AIHP Pharmaceutical Trade Catalog Collection in the Kremers Reference Files
A portion of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy/AIHP Pharmaceutical Trade Catalog Collection

The complete digitization project is expected to eventually include about 400 historic pharmaceutical trade catalogs (comprising about 120,000 individual pages), and more than 12,000 images from the Drug Topics collection. UWDCC will digitize the resources and host the online collection on its website. AIHP and the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy staff will write the descriptive metadata that describes and contextualizes the items.

The UW/AIHP Pharmaceutical Trade Catalog collection consists of more than 450 pharmaceutical and pharmacy-related trade catalogs published between 1829 and the 2000s. These nineteenth and early twentieth centuries catalogs document the development of the American pharmaceutical trade and contain advertisements for the varied pharmaceutical preparations and consumer products sold in drugstores. The catalogs feature lengthy lists of medications and prices, as well as color lithographs and other product illustrations. The first phase of the project will digitize the oldest catalogs in the collection.

The AIHP Drug Topics Photograph Collection, donated to AIHP by Drug Topics magazine in 1974, contains approximately 17,200 photographs taken or commissioned by the Drug Topics staff between 1945 and 1970. These photographs mostly document the American retail druggist and corner drugstore in the post-World War Two-era, as well as druggists’ interrelations with their community, with the profession at large, and with business and commerce.

The first phase of the project will focus on digitizing Drug Topics images of subjects that have been given the least attention in the existing scholarly literature, including African-Americans, other minority and underrepresented groups, women, and children. These images will also provide snapshots of other understudied topics in pharmacy/pharmaceutical history, including: crime, drug abuse, poverty, and addiction (including cigarettes and alcohol).

Stay tuned for future announcements as we begin to build this important digital collection!

Please enjoy this gallery of sample images from the Drug Topics Photograph Collection.

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