Digitizing Pharmacy Trade Catalogs – the Work Continues!

The American Institute of the History of Pharmacy is thrilled to announce that the latest batch of trade catalogs, digitized in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center (UWDCC), is now live!

The AIHP jointly holds one of the top pharmaceutical trade catalog collections in the world and has been working with UWDCC since 2021 to make them available on the Digital Collections website. The AIHP and UWDCC have digitized 38 catalogs to date, totaling 14,413 pages. Additionally, the AIHP and UWDCC have collaborated to digitize 840 photos from the Drug Topics Photo Collection.

The trade catalogs in the collection date from 1829 to 2000 and highlight medicines, chemicals, products, and equipment used and sold by pharmacies. They can help historians track wholesale pricing over time, learn what medicines and products were available when, and provide a visual record of packaging design. They’re also full of incredible illustrations and typography that can be used as a reference for contemporary artists and graphic designers.

For example, the latest set of trade catalogs digitized includes a number of catalogs for druggists’ labels. These refer to printed or handwritten labels that pharmacists would use when dispensing medications or giving information about in-house products sold at their pharmacies. Labels were a way of distinguishing the pharmacist from his or her competitors. In 1911, an article in The Chemist and Druggist advised that “every label is an advertisement, and care should be taken to make it an effective one.” In short, labels in the recently digitized trade catalogs provide valuable information to historians about medicines, compounding, and pharmacy locations; however, they also serve as a record of developments in commercial design and printing, as well as marketing and advertising.

In 2023, UW-Madison School of Pharmacy archivist Hannah Swan presented a short video at the Society for Textual Scholarship’s annual conference on the interconnected history of pharmacy labels and printing histories. To watch the video, along with many other engaging videos related to the history of pharmacy, visit the AIHP YouTube channel!

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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