Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Records, 1900-1985

Collection ID:
Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Orr, Craig
bulk 1920-1950
Physical Description:
18 Cubic feet
37 boxes
The Norwich Eaton Pharmaceutical, Inc., Collection includes advertisements, company histories, equipment purchasing proposals, batch orders, finishing production orders, packaging orders and records documenting the creation and advertising of several products, including Furacin, Asogen, Paracin, Unguentine, Necta Sweet, and Chloraseptic Pepto Bismo, a popular liquid still used to relieve various digestive ailments. Founded in 1885, Norwich Eaton was acquired in 1982 by Proctor and Gamble.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Norwich Eaton Pharmaceutical, Inc., Collection includes advertisements, company histories, equipment purchasing proposals, batch orders, finishing production orders, packaging orders and records documenting the creation and advertising of several products. The bulk of the material consists of company advertising records such as Unguentine and Pepto Bismol; but there are also several posters and advertisements devoted to other products such as Norforms and Zemacol. The advertisement records range in period from the mid 1920s to 1966, with the majority from the 1940s. Thus, it is possible to examine the marketing of these products over a 40 year period and view the changes in style, format, and content of the advertisements. There are several advertising campaign items (brochures and packets) referring to strategies or motifs for which examples exist within this collection. Some of the posters in the collection, such as the early ones with a surface textured to simulate paint, or several of the later silk screens, can be regarded as works of art. Some were signed by the artist. Batch orders, finishing orders, and package orders relate to quality control.
The Division of Medical Sciences still retains manufacturing records (1921 1950), photographs (1920 1970s), and twelve catalogues and price lists (1906 1932).

The collection is arranged into seven series.
  • Series 1, Company History, 1940; 1980
  • Series 2, Company Publications, 1939-1982
  • Series 3, Advertising Records, 1923-1982
  • Series 4, Trade Literature, 1900-1980, undated
  • Series 5, Batch Records, 1920s-1940s
  • Series 6, Finishing Production Orders, 1920s-1940s
  • Series 7, Package Orders, 1920s to 1940s

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Norwich Eaton was founded in 1885 by a Baptist minister, the Reverend Lafayette F. Moore, who, with some rudimentary pill making machinery and a few proprietary formulas, set up shop as "L.F. Moore, Pill Manufacturer." Financial problems from the start forced Reverend Moore into a partnership with Oscar G. Bell, an employee of T.D. Miller's drugstore, to which Moore was heavily indebted. The company adopted a new name, "Moore and Bell."
In 1887, without warning or explanation, Moore left Norwich and eventually returned to the ministry. Bell quickly found two new associates and continued to manufacture medicines under the name of the Norwich Pharmacal Company. They became the world's largest producers of aloin from aloes, and resin of podophyllum from mandrake root, as well as a leader in the development of vitamin products. They brought to the market such well known products as Unguentine and Pepto Bismol. By the 1920's, Norwich listed approximately 4,000 elixirs, tinctures, syrups, pills, tablets, extracts, suppositories, dressings, and even surgical instruments in its sales catalog.
In 1982 the company was acquired by Proctor and Gamble and continues to be a research-based manufacturer and marketer of prescription drugs and special dietary foods.

Alisha McCullick and Michael Stratmoen
Immediate Source of Acquisition
In February, 1986 Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals, Inc. donated pharmaceutical products, manufacturing records, and advertising materials to the Division Medical Sciences, now known as the Division of Science and Medicine. On April 7, 1989 publications and advertising material were transferred to Archives Center.
Processing Information
Processed by Robert Ageton, 1990 (volunteer); revised by Kimberly Rowe (intern), Neendomis Adams (intern), Alisha McCullick (intern),and Michael Stratmoen (intern) March, 2010; supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist.

Using the Collection
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.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Preferred Citation
Norwich Eaton Pharmaceutical, Inc. Collection, 1920-1985, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Pharmaceutical industry -- 1920-1990 Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business records -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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