Editor’s Note: From the Collections is a new feature at Points that highlights articles, artifacts, images, and other items of interest from AIHP publications and collections. In honor of Black History Month, Points Managing Editor Greg Bond revisits his two-part 2018 Pharmacy in History article about Liberian Colonial Apothecary James E. Brown. Read the full articles (Part 1 and Part 2) at JSTOR.
In the May 4, 1834, edition of the Liberia Herald, James E. Brown, the newly arrived Colonial Apothecary, placed an advertisement announcing his new business:
“J. Brown, Druggist and Apothecary, late of Washington City, respectfully informs the citizens of Liberia, that he has taken the house formerly occupied by W.L. Weaver, Esq. in Broad Street, where he is now opening an extensive assortment of Drugs and Medicines, imported in brig Argus, from the United States, which he offers for sale on reasonable terms.” 
Over the previous two years, Brown had completed a pharmacy apprenticeship under the auspices of the American Colonization Society (ACS), making him one of the earliest known formally trained African American pharmacists or health professionals.
Brown had many friends in the United States who eagerly awaited updates after his departure. Finally, in August 1834, the National Daily Intelligencer, a leading Washington, DC, newspaper reported Brown’s arrival in Africa:
“Many of your city readers will remember James Brown, a colored man, formerly resident here, and universally esteemed as one of the most intelligent and industrious men of color amongst us. He left this city for Liberia in November last… It will, doubtless, gratify his friends, and the friends of the colonization cause to hear of his well-doing. We have to-day seen a letter from him, in which he expressed his great satisfaction with the country and his prospects.” 
For the next two decades, Brown tended to the pharmaceutical and medical needs of Liberian colonists, proselytized for his new homeland, and held a series of powerful political positions.
Brown’s remarkable career—and complicated legacy—however have been little remembered. He was one of the first African Americans to receive formal health sciences training in the United States, but he was a vocal life-long supporter of the extremely controversial colonization movement. He strongly advocated for African American freedom, justice, and self-determination, but he failed to extend the same principles to the native Africans he encountered in Liberia. This post provides a brief introduction to the life and times of James E. Brown, Colonial Apothecary.