Called “nothing but compounds of poisons and opiates” by some doctors, patent medicines were a controversial fixture of life in the early 1900s. However, as the Progressive Era trudged on, the war on patent medicines and the potentially dangerous or ineffective ingredients, established itself in the newspaper and the public conscious, culminating in the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Read more about it!
The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.
Jump to: Sample Articles
- 1905 and 1906: The Collier magazine ran a series of influential articles by Samuel Hopkins Adams entitled, "The Great American Fraud," which exposed many of the deceitful and unsafe methods practiced by patent medicine manufacturers.
- On June 30, 1906: The first federal Food and Drug Act, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt .
- 1912: The Act was amended.
Suggested Search Terms:
- [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.]
Patent Medicines, Drugs, Cures, Medicines, Tinctures, Concoctions and Patent Medicines, Bitters, Elixirs, Tonics, Extracts, Remedies, Pain Killers, Family Medicines, Salves and Patent Medicines, Balsams, Liniments, The Great American Fraud, Samuel Hopkins Adams and Patent Medicines
Sample Articles from Chronicling America:
- Slave To Morphine From Doctors Orders, The Clay City Times (Clay City, Ky) , December 18, 1902, Page 3, Image 3, Col. 3
- Alcohol In Medicine, The Gainesville Star (Gainesville, Fla), June 23, 1903, Image 5, Col. 2
- Some Secrets Of Patent Medicines, Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Ky), February 23, 1905, Page 3, Image 3, Col. 3
- [Collier's Weekly.], Palestine Daily Herald (Palestine, Tex), October 7, 1905, Image 4, Col.1
- Begins War On Patent Medicines, Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles [Calif.]), October 22, 1905, Page 3, Image 3, Col. 3
- Propose Tax On Medicines, Amador Ledger (Jackson, Amador County, Calif), October 27, 1905, Page 1, Image 5, Col. 1
- A Patent Medicine Talk, The Evening World (New York, N.Y), November 10, 1905, Evening Edition, Page 15, Image 15, Cols. 5-6
- Actuated By Selfishness. Attacks Upon Patented Medicines Made By Men Of Mercenary Mind., The Weekly True Democrat (Tallahassee, Fla), December 1, 1905, Image 7, Cols. 1-3
- Statistics. What They Show Concerning Poising in This Country, Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Ky), December 28, 1905, Page 3, Image 3, Col. 3
- Dealers Given To April 1st, The Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City [Utah), January 3, 1906, Last Edition, Page 3, Image 3, Col. 1
- The Death Rate and "Patent" Medicine, Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles [Calif.]), May 27, 1906, Image 48, Cols. 1-3
- Pure Food In Sight, The Washington Times (Washington [D.C.]), June 25, 1906, Last Edition, Page 6, Image 6, Col.1
- Pure Food Bill Drastic Enough, The Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City [Utah), June 28, 1906, Page 1, Image 1, Col.3
- Pure Food Law Fight, New-York Tribune (New York [N.Y.]), September 5, 1906, Page 3, Image 3, Col.3
- Hearings By the Pure Food Board, Palestine Daily Herald (Palestine, Tex), September 17, 1906, Image 3, Col. 6
- Peruna Editorial No, 4, Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles [Calif.]), April 7, 1907, Page 4, Image 4, Cols. 6-7
- To-day we want to talk to you about "Catarrh cures", The Hartford Herald (Hartford, Ky), October 2, 1907, Image 8, Col. 5
- No Change Necessary In Rexall Remedies, Palestine Daily Herald (Palestine, Tex) , March 11, 1908, Image 5, Cols. 3-4
- Facts For Sick Women, [Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound.], The Breckenridge News (Cloverport, Ky), October 20, 1909, Page 6, Image 8, Col.5