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 Originally compiled by pioneering historian of pharmacy Professor Edward Kremers for his unpublished Encyclopedia of Pharmacy, the KRF has since been maintained by Directors of the AIHP, including George Urdang, Glenn Sonnedecker, John Parascandola, and Greg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.

AIHP actively solicits biographical information about pharmacists and people active in the pharmaceutical field. If you would like to provide information about yourself and your career for the benefit of future historians who may consult the biographical folders in the Kremers Reference Files, please complete and return the AIHP Biographical Questionnaire. Completed questionnaires and accompanying material will be placed in the Kremers Reference Files. Submitted materials cannot be returned.

Researchers may access the Kremers References by appointment.

To visit the Kremers Reference Files or for reference assistance please email:

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.

Actively engaged in preserving the documents of pharmacy's past and developing materials for understanding the future.

AIHP Thanks National Association Sponsors

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AIHP Wants to Document Your COVID-19 Stories and Experiences

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.

You can participate in the AIHP COVID-19 Pandemic Pharmacy Historical Documentation Project either (1) by immediately sharing your thoughts/experiences and/or submitting digital materials or (2) by signifying your to intention to submit materials in the future. Please comply with all applicable local or state stay-at-home orders while self-documenting.

Please click the link below to learn more about participating in the AIHP COVID-19 Pandemic Pharmacy Historical Documentation Project.

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Join AIHP and Subscribe to History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals

Access the Pharmacy in History JSTOR Archive
All past issues of Pharmacy in History have been digitized and are text-searchable at JSTOR.

Note: Academic libraries seeking subscriptions to History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals should directly contact the University of Wisconsin Press.

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Calendar of Events

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):

May 28-31, 2024: Kremers Seminar in the History of Pharmacy webinars.
June 27-30, 2024: ADHS Biennial Conference, Buffalo, NY.
July 7-11, 2024: International Social Pharmacy Workshop, Banff, Canada.
September 4-7, 2024: 46th International Congress for the History of Pharmacy, Belgrade Serbia.
January 3-6, 2025: Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, New York City, NY.

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