Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Points Editor Emeritus Ron Roizen.
Dear POINTS readers,
If you haven’t yet made use of the SALIS Collection of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs digital library, then you may have a real treat in store. Curated and maintained by the Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists (SALIS) and hosted on the Internet Archive, the SALIS Collection:
The conference will be a collaboration between the ADHS and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México-Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales (IIS-UNAM). ADHS hopes that this conference will be an in-person event, but please stayed tuned for more details in early 2022.
Editor’s Note: Patrick M. Walsh is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He studies the the cross-talk between bacteriology, immunology and endocrinology in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.
Blood is everywhere I look in the Kremers Reference Files (KRF) at the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy (AIHP). It’s in trade manuals published from the 1890s to the 1930s by Parke-Davis, Eli Lilly, and H. K. Mulford. It’s in advertisements from meatpacking-turned-drug companies, including Bovinine and the Cudahy Packing Company. It’s in dusty, century-old newspaper clippings that describe how tons of animal flesh were transported from slaughterhouse to factory line, ripe for experimentation and drug production.
I came to the KRF to start my dissertation work about the American vaccine industry at the turn of the twentieth century, but, instead, all I found was blood. Image after image of blood being suctioned out of stable-bound horses. Blood coursing through plastic tubes that look like fiberoptic cables. Blood being rapidly deposited into oversized receptacles, red foam climbing up the sides of the glass. Some of the images look almost staged—deliberately and self-consciously reenacting a scene from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, then just 80 years old.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. I knew before going into the KRF that the vaccine industry was fully launched in the 1890s with the diphtheria antitoxin vaccine, that this was a “serotherapy,” and that all serotherapies involve a process of blood harvesting. It is a vampiric practice by definition. Hundreds of horses stand at attention, and scientists buzz around them like angry mosquitoes, directing their syringes with precision into pulsing jugulars, delighting at the extraction of potent antitoxins that hurtle invisibly through equine vascular systems. Antitoxin-rich blood was as good as gold at the turn of the century, and it brought companies like Parke-Davis and H. K. Mulford material, social, and political capital.
Editor’s Note: The Alcohol and Drugs History Society was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Lilian Lewis Shiman earlier this year. In today’s post, her colleague and friend Dr. David M. Fahey, Professor Emeritus at Miami University and former President of ADHS’s predecessor organization (Alcohol and Temperance History Group), remembers Shiman’s scholarship and career.
Lilian Shiman was a pioneering temperance historian and the author of two books and multiple articles on the topic. She began work on her dissertation in the 1960s when the English temperance movement was almost an unknown research field and without any women scholars.
Born in Bradford, England, Lilian worked as a young woman first in France and later in Canada. At the suggestion of a Toronto friend, she enrolled at Columbia University, where she met Paul L. Shiman. They married in 1956. He taught religion and philosophy at various colleges. When they lived in Colorado, she received an M.A. at the University of Colorado. When they lived in Wisconsin, she received a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin.
Finally, they settled in Massachusetts, where she held research fellowships at Harvard and Radcliffe. Lillian also received a fellowship in chemistry from the British textile firm, Courtaulds. Lilian taught at Nichols College from 1974 until her retirement in 1996.
At Wisconsin, Lilian did her research under the direction of John F. C. Harrison, a British scholar who had arranged for the university to purchase Guy Hayler’s temperancecollection. Based in part on the Hayler collection, Lilian completed her dissertation the year after the publication of Brian Harrison’s great work, Drink and the Victorians. She had difficulty publishing her dissertation because she was told that Harrison had “done” temperance.
There’s plenty of self-promoting, self-referential nonsense out there in the blogosphere. When it came time to thinking about “Points on Blogs,” well…let’s just say that your editor did not feel this feature needed to promote the self-promoting, or add layers of nonsense to the nonsensical. Consequently, we were very pleased to be able to bring to the Points readership the earnest inquiry of the Drugs, Law and Conflict blog and the vivid explorations of the Res Obscura blog. Last time, I promised we’d “go drinking” in this installment, but I’ve decided to “go thinking” instead. Our third blog is Prof. Daniel Little’s Understanding Society, and it moves away from the realm of alcohol and drugs particularly, to the broad questions that animate our investigations. Little is a professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where he is also currently university chancellor. Here’s how he describes his intellectual orientation on the front page of Understanding Society: “I am a philosopher of social science with a strong interest in China and Southeast Asia. Right now I’m thinking about how to reformulate the philosophy of history in a way that is more closely related to the practice of contemporary historians. I think philosophers need to interact seriously and extensively with working social scientists and historians if they are going to be able to make a useful contribution.”
As for Understanding Society, calling it a blog doesn’t quite capture what Little is trying to accomplish. The recipe for a typical academic blog mixes small amounts of extended analysis with a larger portion of timely reaction pieces, all baked together with heaping pile of whatever comes to mind at the moment. In contrast, here’s Little’s goal, in his own words: “This site addresses a series of topics in the philosophy of social science. What is involved in “understanding society”? The blog is an experiment in thinking, one idea at a time. Look at it as a web-based, dynamic monograph on the philosophy of social science and some foundational issues about the nature of the social world.” Indeed, one can find the entire site organized into a table of contents, or obtain the entire contents through July, 2011 in monograph form (obtained free from the site as a 1234-page[!] pdf file).
Needless to say, that’s a lot to go through. Why should historians of drugs and alcohol care?
Mark Keller (1907-1995) was the long-time editor and editor emeritus of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.(1) His career in alcohol studies stretched all the way back to the 1930s, when he worked for Norman Jolliffe at Bellevue Hospital as a general-purpose research assistant and sometime editor. Over the years Keller published a number of accounts of the genesis of “the new scientific approach” to alcohol problems in the mid- and late-1930s in the U.S.(2) (I had the honor to attend a talk given by Keller on this topic at the Alcohol Research Group in Berkeley on February 13, 1978 — which presentation was later the basis for his 1979 article on this history [see 2].) Keller’s accounts drew in part upon what he himself had witnessed as well as what Jolliffe passed along to him. On a personal level, Keller always made his kind and generous scholarly help freely available to me. In time, however, I came to appreciate one or two of the pitfalls of Keller’s essentially personal-reminiscence approach to this history.