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Topics in Chronicling America - Catarrh Remedy: Peruna Scandal

Do you have a stomach ache, headache, cough, or any illness at all? If so, it must be catarrh related…or not. During the latter half of the 19th century, the famous Dr. Samuel Hartman, created his world-renowned proprietary medicine, Peruna. He launched a vigorous advertisement strategy, which included hundreds of endorsements from politicians, business professionals, and many other regular citizens. However, despite his boundless success at the dawn of the 20th century, a journalist named Samuel Hopkins Adams displayed the scandal of the Peruna medicine. 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.


Peruna ad

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Important Dates:

  • July 29, 1885 By 1885, Dr. Samuel Hartman began to sell many prescriptions of Peruna and other medicines that are becoming widely popular.
  • July 27, 1898 Peruna has been “securing freedom from the grip of catarrh and makes loyal friends for the liberator” and Dr. Hartman encourages patients to buy his book, “Health and Beauty.”
  • December 17, 1902 Peruna company claims that half of the human illnesses are catarrh in nature, and that Peruna cures all forms of catarrh. Many people have endorsed the product.
  • March 07, 1903 Dr. Hartman personally claims a catarrhal “grip” has a great hold on America and “has found no remedy that equals Peruna for prompt action.”
  • February 05, 1905 The Ohio home of Peruna, “the greatest medicine plant in the world,” is built on a floor space of about seven acres.
  • October 20, 1906 Journalist, Samuel Hopkins Adams, in his Collier’s Weekly article claims Peruna and other patent medicines are frauds. Specifically, he claims that Peruna contains 28 percent of alcohol.
  • February 20, 1913 Dr. Hartman speaks out and claims that alcohol in Peruna is “an unjust criticism.”
  • December 11, 1914 The New-York Tribune calls out for a “need of law to curb quack ‘cures’” including Peruna.
  • January 06, 1915 Mr. Samuel Hopkins Adams again calls out patent medicines like Peruna, writing that advertisement cannot sell health.
  • February 01, 1918 Dr. Samuel Hartman, age 88, died of acute indigestion in his apartment at the Hartman hotel.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Catarrh Remedy, Dr. Samuel Hartman, Peruna Drug Company, Katarno, The Pure Food and Drug Act, Samuel Hopkins Adams
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.
  • Specifically, Peruna became readily available to the public in the 1880’s and then grew to become internationally prominent all during the early 1900’s.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  June 25, 2015
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