The Kremers Seminar in the History of Pharmacy & Drugs, sponsored by the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy and the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, explores the history of pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, drugs, and medicines. The “Kreminar” features authors and scholars discussing their latest research and projects and aims to use history to inform contemporary understandings and debates about pharmacy, drugs and medicines.
Edward Kremers (1864-1941) was the second Director of the University of Wisconsin Department of Pharmacy (later the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy) and a co-founder of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy. Throughout his career, he strongly believed in the importance of history and the value of humanistic research in pharmacy and the health sciences. Kremers also encouraged critical thought about drug consumption and control in the United States, encouraging the news media, political leaders, and pharmacy leaders to think about the meanings associated with words like “drug,” “narcotics,” and “medicine.” He opposed prohibitionist impulses and groups, arguing that that restrictive measures would not solve the misuse of certain substances. Kremers also resisted language and policies that placed blame on foreigners for drug addiction or crime.
In the spirit of Edward Kremers, each Kreminar focuses on a specific theme and features weekly presentations that provide crucial historical context about contemporary issues related to drugs and pharmacy.
Dr. Lucas Richert, George Urdang Chair in the History of Pharmacy at the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy and the AIHP Historical Director, hosts the Seminar.
Current and Upcoming Kreminars
Geothermal baths and healing springs have a millenia-spanning history of medical tourism, from the ancient Roman baths to the spas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, considered to be the golden age of the so-called “water cure”. Many scholars, in fact, see the rise of leisure travel as directly related to the popularity of “taking the waters” for one’s health. Drawing upon ephemera from locales as diverse as Manitou, Colorado and the Hunyadi Springs of Budapest, Hungary, I will explore the origins of the modern spa vacation, as well as the often fantastical medical claims made by the doctors who staffed these institutions. Advertising booklets and broadsides for healing springs and geothermal baths will inform my discussion of the history of medical tourism, while pharmaceutical ephemera extolling the benefits of water will contextualize the medical field of so-called hydropathy.
Thursday, June 15
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
In the early 20th Century, the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy had a small contingent of Chinese students who worked on traditional Chinese medicine, researching the plants that had been used for thousands of years. In their effort, the Chinese students brought their knowledge of medicine to American pharmaceutical research. This was not just a project for graduate-level research but also to relocate Chinese medicine as a significant player in the production of western medicine.
Thursday, June 22
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Recent events as diverse as America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis, the anti-vaccine movement, the debate over the legalization and regulation of marijuana and other personal use drugs, struggles over drug prices and accessibility, among others, all have roots in the history of pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, drugs, medicines, and healthcare. The wide-ranging public debates about these topics vividly demonstrate the vital importance of grounding contemporary public health discussions in a clear understanding of their relevant histories — and in evidence.
This talk, the first part of the Summer 2023 Kreminar series, will showcase ongoing collections activities at the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy and UW-Madison SoP, including NEH and UW funded projects. The talk will also introduce important smaller collections and recent initiatives that will be featured in future episodes of the 2023 Kreminar.
Thursday, June 1
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
This event has passed. Link to recording: https://youtu.be/9oduBkWsLjM
In light of contemporary court cases about the legal and ethical responsibility of pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy chains to protect patients and consumers from psychoactive and intoxicating substances, this Kreminar highlights the internal debates between pharmacists about their need to balance profits with public health concerns related to so-called “dangerous drugs” and “magic bullets.” More specifically, this talk will present archival documents from approximately 1950 to 1975 in the United States, including a collection of posters by Frank Pinchak, documents from the American Pharmaceutical Association regarding the 1962 Remington Honor Medal that was given to Harry Anslinger, and a 1974 consumer manual on “Soft Drugs” that was published by the Pharmacists’ Society of Milwaukee County. Utilizing such primary documents from the AIHP-UWSoP, this Kreminar covers the discussions between pharmacists about the construction of their authority in the medical marketplace, the gatekeeping efforts of the pharmacist as part of the pharmaceutical industry, and the marketing of drugs that cross between medicinal and recreational contexts, such as opium and various opiates. These topics and concerns, put simply, grapple with the role of pharmacists and the pharmaceutical industry in harm reduction (broadly construed). While harm reduction, as a political movement and public health policy, did not begin to take shape until the late twentieth century, the debates between pharmacists throughout the early- and mid-twentieth century in the United States showcase a concern about the commodification, franchising, and profit-motives of the pharmaceutical industry.
Thursday, June 8
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
This event has passed. Link to Recording: https://youtu.be/0CGWOzhjylk
The 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.Read More
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.Read More
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):
July 22-26, 2023: Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, Aurora, CO.
August 30-September 2, 2023: Biennial Meeting of the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health, Oslo, Norway.
November 11-14, 2023: Annual Meeting of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, Dallas, TX.
December 3-7, 2023: Midyear Clinical Meeting of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Anaheim, CA.
January 4-7, 2024: Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, San Francisco, CA.
September 4-7, 2024: 46th International Congress for the History of Pharmacy, Belgrade Serbia.