Learning Objectives

After completing this module, students will understand:


Step 1:  Objects and Their Properties

For each object answer the following questions:

  1. What do you think the object is and why?
  2. When, where, by whom and for whom was it made?
  3. What, if any, changes in ownership, condition and function have occurred over time?
  4. What is it made out of?  Do the materials suggest when it was made?
  5. What techniques were used to make it?  Is it well made?
  6. What does the construction suggest about the date and use of the object?
  7. What is its physical structure, shape, size, style, ornamentation?
  8. What kind of writing does it have on it, if any?
  9. Does the construction or shape of any of the bottles or stoppers suggest their contents?
  10. For what use was it originally intended?
  11. Can you tell the differences between homeopathic and allopathic (or orthodox) pharmaceuticals/objects? What are these differences?
  12. Who would have used this object and where? How has this changed over time?
  13. Identify it: what is the object, and how can you tell?

Medicine Chest database entry 
Alternative Images

Pill Cutter database entry
Alternative Images

Strychnine Sulphate database entry
Alternative Images

DLT Belladonna database entry
Alternative Images

Step 2:  The Meaning of an Artifact

For each object answer the following questions:

  1. Identify it: Has your research confirmed your original identification?
  2. Evaluate it: Rank its aesthetic and functional qualities, considering the material, texture, skill of craftsmanship, effectiveness of overall design, the expressiveness of its form, style and ornamentation.  Compare it with other, similar objects and within the same time period.
  3. What does its function reveal about the philosophy of medicine and health at the time? The philosophy of human bodies and drug therapy at the time?
  4. What does the location of its use reveal about the role of the doctor and the role of the patient in health and medicine?
  5. What does the object’s function reveal about the relationship between the doctor, the pharmacist-apothecary, and the patient?
  6. How does the object reveal what is “natural” and what is “unnatural” in health and medicine?
  7. How might the status, values and meanings attached to a practitioner of medicine, or to a patient, be conveyed by the object? 
  8. What does the object reveal about pharmaceutical production and distribution at the time? About the regulation and legislation of pharmaceutical production?  What are the implications of this for medical practice at the time?
  9. How and why does the legitimacy of the object, or the perception of its utility, change over time?
  10. What is the history of the patent information? Who was the creator of the object? What does this history indicate about the legitimacy of the object in the practice of medicine?
  11. What do the object or objects reveal about the relationship between homeopathic medicine and orthodox medicine in Canada at the time?
  12. What do the object or objects reveal about dosage in homeopathic and orthodox medicine?  What do different philosophies of dosage say about social perceptions of medicine in the 19th century?

C.T. Campbell, Facts and Fallacies about Homeopathy.(PDF 874KB)

Advertisement, Globe and Mail, Toronto, 11 June 1898 column 1.(676 KB)

Advertisement, Globe and Mail, Toronto, 2, July, 1898 column 6-7 (676 KB).

Arthur Lutze, Manual of Homoeopathic Theory and Practice, Designed for the Use of Physicians and Families, Trans. Charles J. Hempel (New York: Boericke and Tafel), 1872, 34-38, 63-64, 79-80, 97.

Selected References for Further Research


Primary Sources

Boys, William Fuller Alves. A practical treatise on the office and duties of coroners in Ontario, and the other provinces, and the territories of Canada, and in the colony of Newfoundland: with schedules of fees, and an appendix of forms. Toronto: Carswell, 1893.

Grauvogl, Eduard von. Text Book of Homoeopathy.    Chicago: C. S. Halsey; New York: Boericke and Tafel, 1870.

Lilienthal, Samuel. Homoeopathic Therapeutics. New York: Boercke and Tafel, 1878.

Lutze, Arthur. Manual of Homoeopathic Theory and Practice, Designed for the Use of Physicians and Families. Trans. Charles J. Hempel. New York: Boericke and Tafel, 1872.

Schaefer, C.W. Two Medical Systems Contrasted: Homeopathy and Alloepathy. Guelph: Mercury Cheap Book, 1863.


Secondary Sources

Boussel, Patrice. History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Industry. Paris: Asklepios Press, 1983.

Burger, Alfred. Drugs and People: Medications, their History and Origins, and the Way They Act. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986.

Flannery, Michael A. Civil War Pharmacy: a History of Drugs, Drug Supply and Provision, and Therapeutics for the Union and Confederacy. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 2004.

Greffenhagen, George B., and Ernst W. Stieb. Pharmacy Museums and Historical Collections in the United States and Canada. Madison: American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 1988.

Kaufman, Martin.  Homeopathy in America: The Rise and Fall of a Medical Heresy. Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.

Kirschmann, Anne Taylor.  A Vital Force: Women in American Homeopathy.  New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2004.

Richardson, Lillian C.  The Pill Rollers: a Book on Apothecary Antiques and Drug Store Collectibles. Fort Washington: Old Fort Press, 1979.

Robinson, James W. Prescription for Success: the Rexall Showcase International Story and What it Means to You. Rocklin: Prima Pub., 1999.

Salmon, Warren J, ed. Alternative Medicines, Popular and Policy Perpectives. New York: Tavistock Publications, 1984.

Stockwell, Christine. Nature's Pharmacy: a History of Plants and Healing. London: Century Hutchinson, 1988.

Sumner, Judith. The Natural History of Medicinal Plants. Portland: Timber Press, 2000.

Whorton, James. Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.