Recap: The Poison Squad, by Deborah Blum, Book Discussion

Word cloud of Themes discussed in Deborah Blum’s The Poison Squad

Presented by the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, the Go Big Read initiative, and the Social and Administrative Sciences Division of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy.

AIHP had the pleasure of hosting a book discussion about this year’s University of Wisconsin campus-wide Go Big Read book: The Poison Squad, by Deborah Blum. On October 31st, a group of readers from multiple disciplines including pharmacy, medicine, and history gathered to discuss the book. The group members shared thoughts, comments, questions, and concerns that were sparked while reading The Poison Squad.

AIHP Go Big Read Poison Squad Book Discussion

Discussion was semi-structured and loosely guided by the sample questions provided by the Go Big Read initiative. Conversations expanded on several topics, including the impact of Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle (1906), media coverage in Wiley’s time vs. contemporary media coverage of science, the ethics behind Wiley’s Poison Squad experiments, women’s role in bringing attention to the issue of food additives and preservatives, and the persistent wealth gap in regard to food accessibility then and now.

The book discussion was one of several events co-hosted by the Social and Administrative Sciences Division of the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy and the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy to generate discussion about The Poison Squad and the Go Big Read. Other events included invited lectures by Dr. Lisa Haushofer, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Culinaria Research Centre of the University of Toronto, and by Dr. John Swann, Historian at the Food and Drug Administration.

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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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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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