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Pictured here are antique pharmaceutical labels sourced from a group of pharmacies in Emsworth, England, that operated between 1895 and the 1930s. A recent addition to the Penn Libraries’ Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial collection, these labels add to the ethnographic study of chemistry and allied sciences. They unveil the uses of pharmaceutical preparations by ordinary people, supplementing the library’s extensive holdings of pharmaceutical chemistry textbooks. Citrate of Iron & Quinine (above) was used generally as a fever reducer and tonic, while Syrup of Buckthorn (below) was a liquid purgative comprised of buckthorn berries, alcohol, and ginger, used to induce vomiting and diarrhea. “Everyday items like these can help researchers understand prevailing practices in popular pharmacy and their relationship to scientific discoveries and changes in general understandings of the place of pharmaceutical treatments in day-to-day medical practice,” says Mitch Fraas, the Penn Librarian who acquired the research collection—which has yet to be digitized. —Beatrice Forman C’22

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