Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Patent Medicines

Collection ID:
Warshaw, Isadore, 1900-1969
Collection is in
; some materials in
, and
Physical Description:
34.05 Cubic feet
consisting of 60 boxes, 14 half boxes, 9 folders, 38 oversize folders, 12 map case folders, plus digital images of some collection material.
A New York bookseller, Warshaw assembled this collection over nearly fifty years. The Warshaw Collection of Business Americana: Patent Medicines forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Subseries 1.1: Subject Categories. The Subject Categories subseries is divided into 470 subject categories based on those created by Mr. Warshaw. These subject categories include topical subjects, types or forms of material, people, organizations, historical events, and other categories. An overview to the entire Warshaw collection is available here: Warshaw Collection of Business Americana

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection consists primarily of advertising cards, pamphlets, leaflets, booklets, calendars, post cards, printed advertisements , medical newspaper articles, blotters, almanacs, cookbooks, scattered correspondence on letterhead stationery, medical journals, labels, bills/receipts, business cards, import/export documents, recipe books, reports, reviews, editorials, lectures, family manuals, notices, circulars, memorandum & account books, order forms, lithographs, photographs, caricatures song books and articles from manufacturers of proprietary medicines and wholesale and retail drug dispensers. There is a substantial amount of material from each company relating to the medical treatment of various diseases. Companies with a large amount of material include James C. Ayer, Foster, Milburn Company, C. T. Hood, Johnson and Johnson, Lehn and Fink, Lyons Manufacturing Company, Miles Medical Company, Parke Davis, Lydia Pinkham, Power Taylor Drug Company, Rumford Chemical Works, S. T. W. Stanford and Son, Seabury and Johnson, W. H. Schieflein and Company, E. R. Squibb and Sons and H.H. Warner.
Included within the collection are pamphlets on various disease entities, societies and institutes, chiropractic, homeopathy, hygiene and health and martial behavior. Doctors are listed in a separate section. Most of the material is organized by name of company. The first 51 boxes contain material from manufacturers of proprietary medicines and is arranged in alphabetical order. This material consists mostly of advertising cards, testimonials and various advertising leaflets. Many manufacturers published almanacs and other publication s with health and household hints. This material covers the nineteenth century; however, most of it is undated. Boxes 52 thru 58 are documents from wholesale and retail drug dispensers including invoices, booklets, almanacs and leaflets dating from 1800 thru 1926. Box 59 contains a large ledger with pasted cards and advertising material from various manufacturers, wholesalers and druggists. Medical publications are in boxes 60 to 64 and consist of journals with multiple articles regarding various diseases and their treatment. This material dates from 1859-1937. Contained in boxes 65 and 66 are pharmaceutical publications, state journals, national journals and other pharmaceutical booklets dating from 1856-1933. In box 66 folder number 13 there is a publication by Abbott Laboratories, printed in 1956, is a comprehensive summary of the first 50 years of the Pure Food and Drug act. Also in box 66 folders 14, 15, and 16 are journals of the Homeopathic News from 1895 to 1902, and Homeopathic Envoy dated 1901. In the last folder is an 1804 issue of Phrenology and Physiognomy. The entire box number 67 contains only copies of the Pharmaceutical Era with dates from 1890 to 1903. A collection of medical pamphlets, leaflets and booklets cover a variety of medical problems as well as diagnosis and their medical treatment in boxes 68 and 69. Miscellaneous materials in box 70 include prescription s, photographs, chromolithographs, etchings and engravings and information about the Pasteur Institute and vaccines developed at that facility. In box 71 there are some medical- legal papers and import export documents. Box 72 contains many miscellaneous medical materials. Newspaper clippings, medical economics, U.S. revenue order forms and instructions. Treatment articles and forms for ordering journals and other medical publications. Printing companies, catering to druggists for labels, letterheads and other related printing needs, along with labeling samples are contained in box 73. The last box contains foreign language medical material. In this group are articles and advertising written in Chinese, German, French, Hungarian, Spanish and Swedish.
Additional information may be found in the subject labeled medicine.
This material contains information on diseases, x-ray, instruments, insanity, tuberculosis, cancer, female medicine, medical schools, anesthetics (ether).

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Before the Pure Food and Drug Administration was instituted in 1908 there were no restrictions on the claims or contents of medications available to the public without a physician prescription. This is reflected in the advertisements and testimonials as seen in this material. Many of the companies manufactured and distributed other products such as cosmetics, hair preparations and dyes; therefore researchers interested in chemical substances other than medical treatments would also be interested in this subject. The material dates from ca. 1800-1956 but, the bulk is late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Many diseases in the 19th century were known by names not currently used at this time. Throughout much of the material consumption which is known as tuberculosis was of great concern. Other diseases include kidney ailments (renal disease) referred to as Bright's disease, catarrh referred to the common cold, bronchitis, or sinusitis, gleet discharge from any body area used for example in gonorrhea and syphilis and scrophula glandular diseases many times accompanied by eruptions. Diseases that were considered curable by many of the medications described in this collection were catarrh, Bright's disease, anemia, syphilis, female diseases, gonorrhea, nervousness, tiredness and listlessness, headaches, weight loss, backaches, alcoholism, masturbation, typhoid, malaria, children's diseases and narcotic addiction.

Vanessa Broussard-Simmons and Nicole Blechynden
Funding for partial processing of the collection was supported by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund (CCPF).
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Patent Medicines is a portion of the Business Ephemera Series of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Accession AC0060 purchased from Isadore Warshaw in 1967. Warshaw continued to accumulate similar material until his death, which was donated in 1971 by his widow, Augusta. For a period after acquisition, related materials from other sources (of mixed provenance) were added to the collection so there may be content produced or published after Warshaw's death in 1969. This practice has since ceased.
Processing Information
In 2016, with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund, the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History implemented the use of minimal level processing standards to increase information about and facilitate access to more of our collections. A large portion of stored material from the original acquisition received minimal level processing, which resulted in additions to this Subject category. This effort included basic arrangement and replacement of non-archival housing for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed. Revisions to the encoded finding aid were made to reflect the added content in context to the previously processed material.
Minimal level processing and enhancement of the machine-readable finding aid completed by Nicole Blechynden, September 2017.

Digital Content
More …
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research. Some items may be restricted due to fragile condition.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Preferred Citation
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Patent Medicines, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

Materials in the Archives Center
Materials in the Archives Center
Archives Center Collection of Business Americana (AC0404)

Forms Part Of

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ephemera Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business ephemera Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012