When the Medicine Man Comes Knocking: The Push for Modernization of Pharmaceutical Safety

Camille King returns with Part Two of ‘When the Medicine Man Comes Knocking’. She picks up where Part One left off, with an understanding of how some patent medicines were marketed misleadingly based on their alleged ability to cure a range of physiological symptoms. In this post she considers how greater awareness was created regarding the content of patent medicines and their implications for public health.

When the Medicine Man Comes Knocking: A History of the Marketing of Patent Medicines

Editor’s Note: Camille King followed her curiosity regarding a beautiful family collection of vintage medicine bottles to conduct archival research and literature review on the marketing of patent medicines. Over a two-part post, Camille discusses the marketing strategies deployed to sell particular patented medicines (Part One), and subsequently considers factors that led to greater awareness regarding the content of patent medicines and their implications for public health (Part Two – forthcoming).

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Comments on The State of Drug and Alcohol History Pedagogy and Research

Editor’s Note: In this post, David Korostyshevsky comments on The State of Drug and Alcohol History Pedagogy and Research Roundtable Discussion at the Alcohol and Drugs History Society Conference, Mexico City, June 15, 2022.


After more than two long, hard years of global pandemic, it was truly wonderful to assemble once again with colleagues, friends, and fellow scholars at the Alcohol and Drugs History Society’s Conference in Mexico City this past June. As I begin designing a new course on the history of alcohol and drugs, it is with particular interest that I participated in “The State of Drug and Alcohol History Pedagogy and Research” Roundtable discussion. Without giving a point-by-point breakdown of the presentations and discussion, I highlight general themes and salient observations about the conversation. I also include a few comments about my takeaways from the conversation.

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Cannabis Consumption in India: A History

Editor’s Note: In her latest post for Points Kawal Deep Kour resurrects a past editorial feature: ‘Cannabis: Global Histories‘. She contributes to this rich history by outlining the multitudinous roles and affordances of cannabis within Indian cultures.


Much before the Irish physician Sir William Brooke O Shaughnessy (1808-1889) introduced cannabis into Western medicine sometime around the mid-nineteenth century, Ganja (hemp) had already been part of India’s living culture as medicine and an intoxicating agent – even before 1000 B.C. The use of hemp in India was also mentioned by Jewish physician Garcia de Orta in 1563 and subsequently by the Dutch administrator in India, Hendrik van Rheede ( 1636-1691) who in his treatise, Hortus Malabaricus (the garden of Malabar) described that ganja smoking was popular on the Malabar coast. Ganja is an intoxicating drug, derived from the leaves of the Cannabis Indica plant. The philosophy of cannabis consumption in India entails the sacred lore of having emerged in the form of a pot of nectar while the gods and the demons were churning the ocean with the help of mountain Mandara and Vasuki, the serpent king. It was named Vijaya and was believed to bestow victory upon its votaries. It is said that the Gods then wished that it be sent to live with humans on Earth and aid in their merriment and enjoyment of the pleasures of life. 

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Elizabeth Bass, The G-Woman at the Federal Bureau of Narcotics – Part 2

Editor’s Note: In the second of two posts which re-open the Points ‘Hidden Figures of Drug History‘ feature, Bob Beach explores Elizabeth Bass’s career as a G-Man at the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.


Picking up where we left off, Elizabeth Bass was appointed as district nine supervisor of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in Chicago in 1933. Even if we consider what we know about the role of women during the Prohibition phase in the war on drugs, and the context of the Roosevelt Administration’s efforts to break political taboos in appointing women to prominent roles during his term, the appointment of a woman to this position seems rather remarkable.[1]

Her age, 71 when she took her position, was perhaps more remarkable. It was over the limit for federal employees in the Civil Service, but was waived by one of Roosevelt’s many executive orders, allowing her and other aged political allies to join his administration.[2] Her glaring disqualification as a lifelong political operative was her complete lack of law enforcement experience. This concern was exacerbated by deeply embedded assumptions about gender (not to mention age) in the world of law enforcement.

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Elizabeth Bass, The G-Woman at the Federal Bureau of Narcotics – Part 1

Editor’s Note: In the first of two posts which offer new additions to former ‘Points’ feature ‘Hidden Figures of Drug HistoryBob Beach explores the colorful career of Elizabeth Bass prior to her role as a G-Man within the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

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Situation Report: Conducting Research at the U.S. National Archives in College Park, Maryland (Archives II)

Editor’s Note: This situation report provides an overview of the current protocols at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland (Archives II). Please note this refers to Archives II only, as at early April 2022, and may be subject to change. Please check the NARA website for updates and communicate with the archives before making any definitive research plans. For further information and updates see: https://www.archives.gov/college-park.

Many thanks to Bill McAllister for agreeing to share his personal experiences/correspondence with the Points audience.

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A Chronology of Drugs

Editor’s Note: During her career as a Professor of History, specialising in 20th century Latin America and the war on drugs, Myrna Santiago compiled a chronology of drugs. This contains a log of key dates throughout the history of drugs. We’re incredibly grateful that Myrna has offered to share her chronology within this blog post and will remain part of our Teaching Points collection. I’ll defer to Myrna to explain the rest…

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