Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Kiehl's Pharmacy Records

Collection ID:
Kiehl's Pharmacy
Morse Laboratories. Kiehl's Pharmacy
bulk 1960-1970
Physical Description:
6.5 Cubic feet
8 boxes
The collection consists of formulas and prescriptions for Morse Laboratories and Kiehl's Pharmacy products.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection documents formulas and prescriptions for Morse Laboratories and Kiehl's Phramacy products.
Series 1, Formulas, 1954-1973, consists of specific formulas developed by Kiehl's Pharmacy and Morse Laboratories, Inc. Individual files are loosely arranged by lot number order. The information includes drug name, date and form (e.g. cream, tablet). In some instances, the ingredients and quantity are provided. In addition to formula cards, there are requests for pharmaceutical certification, penicillin certificates, invoices, and some correspondence.
Series 2, Prescriptions, 1920-1922, 1935-1936, contains written prescriptions from local doctors, primarily the New York City metropolitan area, that were filled at Kiehl's Pharmacy between 1920-1922. These materials also contain order forms for opium and other-habit forming drugs, an envelope that once contained a packet of medicinal herbal tea, and cancelled prescription blank forms that were produced in accordance with the National Prohibition Act.

The collection is arranged into two series.
Series 1, Formulas, 1954-1973
Series 2, prescriptions, 1920-1922, 1935-1936

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Kiehl's Pharmacy, located on the corner of Third Avenue and East 13th Street, New York, New York, was originally owned by German immigrant Louis Brunswick, who sold herbs and oils at his Brunswick Apotheke in 1851. About thirty years later, Brunswick sold the store to apothecaries Englehardt and Huber. When John Kiehl (born 1868) was around twenty years old, he began working at the Englehardt & Huber Apothecary, eventually taking ownership of the company. Kiehl was known for his unique tonics and remedies inspired by old-world, botanical recipes, including virility creams, medicinal salves, curative oils, baldness cures, and exotic concoctions like Attraction Powder, Life Everlasting, Money Drawing Oil, and Love Oil. Beginning in 1921, Kiehl's offered a variety of essences that were blended by hand for customers, including Musk Oil, Grapefruit, Amber, Gardenia, Cucumber, and Pour Homme.
The Morse family immigrated to the United States from Russia before World War One, and son Irving A. Morse, or "Doc Morse," (died 1980) worked as an apprentice to John Kiehl while also serving in the U.S. Army during World War One and earning a pharmacology degree from Columbia University. In 1921, Morse bought the company from Kiehl, continuing his tradition of providing homeopathic cures and herbal remedies from the old country while expanding the company into a full-service, modern pharmacy. Like Kiehl, Morse valued the personal relationships he had with his customers and encouraged them to experiment with the products before choosing which would best suit their needs. "Try before you buy" became the company motto, and this principle of personalized customer service established by Irving Morse continues to this day.
Irving Morse's son Aaron (1923-1996) followed in his father's footsteps in business, studying pharmacology at the Columbia University School of Pharmacy and joining the army as a pilot during World War Two. After graduation, Aaron began Morse Laboratories Inc. in Hoboken, New Jersey to develop manufactured products for Kiehl's Pharmacy. Morse Laboratories operated from the late 1940s until 1961, and its first product was Ostrocal, a fluoride therapy product sold at Kiehl's. Starting in 1948, Morse expanded the company's product line to include a variety of penicillin and antibiotic products. Morse Laboratories Inc. supplied the New York City Hospital System and sanatoriums throughout New York State with paramino salicylic acid for the treatment of tuberculosis and supplied the U.S. government with aloe vera cream "for use against radiation burns."
In 1961, Aaron Morse took over Kiehl's Pharmacy from his father and sold Morse Laboratories Inc. in 1964. Pharmacy operations moved to Paterson, New Jersey, and were renamed Biocraft Laboratories. Aaron Morse shifted the purpose of Kiehl's Pharmacy from providing homeopathic cures and chemicals to developing and selling natural skin and hair care products. In 1988, after having been diagnosed with cancer, Aaron Morse gave ownership of the company to his daughter, Jami Morse Heidegger. Jami and her husband Klaus modernized the company and computerized the mail-order business, in addition to developing marketing strategies, including brochures and newsletters. Like her father, Jami Morse also expanded the product line, introducing baby, equine, and athletic products to the company's inventory.
In 2000, L'Oréal purchased the company from Jami Morse who, along with her husband, continued to serve as co-presidents until 2001.
Berger, Meyer, "About New York; 3d Ave. Apothecary Shop Does Big Business in Love Philters and Conjure Medicines," New York Times, January 7, 1959, 30.
"Brunswick Apotheke, Englehardt & Huber, Kiehl's Since 1851," Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, (accessed July 8, 2011).
Frank, Deborah, "Shopping at the Original Kiehl's,",, last accessed July 8, 2011.
"Her Hair Turned Green," New York Times, December 25, 1900.
"Kiehl's,",, last accessed July 8, 2011.
"Kiehl's Since 1851, Inc.,",, last accessed July 8, 2011.
"Our Story," Keihl',,default,pg.html, last accessed July 8, 2011.

Erin Molloy
Custodial History
Transferred to the Archives Center by the Division of Medicine and Science in 2002.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Aaron Morse of Kiehl's Pharmacy on November 19, 1989.
Processing Information
Processed by Erin Molloy (volunteer), Lydia Chiro (intern), and Allyssa Tidwell (intern), July, 2011. Finding aid authored by Erin Molloy (volunteer), supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright status unknown. The collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. 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.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Collection stored off-site. Arrangements must be made with the Archives Center staff two weeks prior to a scheduled research visit. Some materials damaged by water with inert mold.
Preferred Citation
Morse Laboratories, Kiehl's Pharmacy Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
Parke, Davis Research Laboratory Records (AC0001)
Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Records (AC0329)
Syntex Collection of Pharmaceutical Advertisements (AC0821)
Materials in the Division of Medicine and Science
Artifacts related to this collection include glassware and a homeopathic medicine chest (Accession #1981.0589).

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Pharmaceutical industry Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pharmacies Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Laboratories Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Formulae, chemical Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Prescriptions Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Card files Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Penicillin Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Herbs -- Therapeutic use Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Herbal medicine Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
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