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Quack Cures and Self-Remedies: Patent Medicine

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While modern medical research methods and health treatments have generally improved as our understanding of the human body has increased, some purported remedies have been less than helpful. Those interested in the history of this era of pseudo-medicine should check out Quack Cures and Self-Remedies: Patent Medicine, an exhibition from the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The exhibition opens with an overview of patent medicine's heyday from approximately 1860-1920, a period of American history in which people "knew very little about human physiology, biochemistry, and endocrinology," and "sought quick solutions for medical problems that they did not necessarily understand." These so-called cures frequently included opiates, whose addictive properties were not yet understood, as well as high levels of alcohol. The exhibition details the marketing and advertising methods employed by patent medicine purveyors, illustrated by dozens of examples of historical advertisements. From there, visitors can learn about the evolution of the drugstore as we know it today. The exhibition closes with two examples of patent medicine companies that were based in Minnesota, the J.R. Watkins Company and Mark's Medical Company. Published in 2015, this exhibition was organized by Greta Bahnemann in collaboration with the Minnesota Digital Library.
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GEM Subject
Publisher
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Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication 2019-12-06
Archived Scout Publication URL https://scout.wisc.edu/report/2019/1206

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