America the Drug Addicted

America the Drug Addicted

The pamphlet, “Habit-forming Agents their Indiscriminate Sale and Use a Menace to the Public Welfare” by L. F. Kebler, Chief of the Division of Drugs in the Bureau of Chemistry at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was released in 1910.

In this publication, Kebler uses strong language and examples to condemn the use of addictive ingredients in products used by Americans of walks of life. Its release was the culmination of an investigation that revealed the “alarming extent to which such habit-forming ingredients are used, and the large number of channels through which they reach the public, which is not informed as to their nature.”

I have included a few excerpts from the document here, but the whole thing can be read here. Of special note, this was released during the period when Spelling Reform was a hot topic. As a result, you will see some simplification rules in use like cocain for cocaine and sirups for syrups.

Extent of Importation and Use

The amount of opium (exclusive of smoking opium, which is now denied entry into this country), consumed in the United States per capita, has been doubled within the last forty years. Large quantities of other habit-forming agents, introduced chiefly for medicinal purposes, have been used. For example, “cocain” (cocain hydrochlorid), has been used for about twenty-five years, and the amount consumed at present is estimated at approximately 150,000 ounces per annum.

There are at present at least 100 sanatoriums advertising treatment for drug addiction, and it is well known that many thousands of cases are treated annually by physicians in private practice and general hospitals. The writer knows of at least 30 so-called mail-order “drug-addiction cures,” some of which apparently have a large patronage. The manager of one of these treatments stated that his company had 100,000 names, including alcohol addicts, upon its books. The number of drug addicts in the United States is variously estimated by those who are conversant with the situation at from 1,000,000 to 4,000,000; the latter number is probably excessive.


It was not an uncommon practice in former days to represent to the consumer that such agents were absent when, as a matter of fact, the very drugs named in the disclaimer were present. The reason for this subterfuge is plain. Normally no one desires to take preparations containing known habit-forming agents, which are frequently responsible for the use of, or demand for, the preparations containing them.

Soothing Syrups

Soothing sirups naturally occupy the first place in such a list. Under this title will be briefly considered baby sirups, soothing sirups, “colic cures” children’s anodynes, “infant’s friends,” teething concoctions, etc. It has long been known to the medical profession that these products, as a rule, contain habit-forming agents, but the majority of mothers have been and still are ignorant of this fact.

The following are representative of this class:

  • Children’s Comfort (morphin sulphate)
  • Dr. Fahey’s Pepsin Anodyne Compound (morphin sulphate)
  • Dr. Fahrney’s Teething Syrup (^morphin and chloroform)
  • Dr. Fowler’s Strawberry and Peppermint Mixture (morphin)
  • Dr. Groves’ Anodyne for Infants (morphin sulphate)
  • Hooper’s Anodyne, the Infant’s Friend (morphin hydrochlorid)
  • Jadway’s Elixir for Infants (codein)
  • Dr. James’ Soothing Syrup Cordial (heroin)
  • Kopp’s Baby’s Friend (morphin sulphate)
  • Dr. Miller’s Anodyne for Babies (morphin sulphate and chloral hydrate)
  • Dr. Moffett’s Teethina, Teething Powders (powdered opium)
  • Victor Infant Relief (chloroform and cannabis indica)
  • Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup (morphin sulphate)


Tomorrow’s Children – Eugenics in America

Tomorrow’s Children – Eugenics in America

I have always been fascinated with pre-World War II America’s flirtation with eugenics. We were well on our way to a pretty horrific state of affairs (by today’s standards) and I strongly suspect we would still be recovering from that dark detour were it not for Nazi Germany’s actions giving the world a strong distaste for governments being that involved in the reproduction rights of their citizens.

Tomorrow's Children

Tomorrow’s Children

Many of the European ideas and approaches to the problems of society, class, and race broached by Francis Galton, Cesare Lombroso, and numerous others were exported to the United States around the turn of the twentieth century.

These concepts influenced such fields as philanthropy, sociology, and criminology; hereditarian concepts of criminality and its control were systematized by Italian psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso.

The University of Missouri’s Special Collections and Rare Books department has an excellent timeline of publications influencing the movement.


Margaret Sanger: Woman Rebel

Margaret Sanger: Woman Rebel

Margaret Sanger, birth control crusader, feminist and reformer, was one of the most controversial and compelling figures of the 20th century. The first volume of “The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger,” titled “The Woman Rebel, 1900-1928,” documents the critical phases and influences of an American feminist icon and offers rare glimpses into her working-class childhood, burgeoning feminism, spiritual and scientific interests, sexual explorations, and diverse roles as wife, mother, nurse, journalist, radical socialist and activist.

In spite of the some perceived negative aspects of her determination to be a martyr for the birth control movement, Sanger was a positive social force in testing and denouncing the Comstock law. The law, named for Anthony Comstock, a postal inspector who had lobbied Congress to forbid the distribution of obscene materials throughout the United States, equated birth control and sex education with obscenity. (more…)

Words from Us
Words from Us
Margaret Sanger: Woman Rebel
Mr. Huyette’s 10 Rules for Motorists

Mr. Huyette’s 10 Rules for Motorists

“Automobile accidents in the majority of cases are due to some carelessness on the part of the drivers,” says Paul B. Huyette, president of the Quaker City Motor Club, who has formulated ten rules of the road, which, if closely adhered to, he believes, will reduce the number of motor smash-ups to a minimum.

Police courts are overburdened, declared Mr. Huyette, with the trials of traffic offenders, who could avoid the annoyance, expense, and trouble if they followed regulations.

His Ten Rules follow:

First. Keep to the right, especially on turns. This does not mean right center. In the event of an accident, nine times out of ten, if you’re on the right, you’re in the right.

American: The Balanced SixSecond. Stay clear of the car tracks and you’ll save tires as well as the tempers of those in the trolley behind. Remember that the track
Is reserved chiefly and primarily for the trolley.

Third. The traffic policeman is your friend. Regard him as such. Co-operate, don’t hinder. The blue coat in the center of the street has the same relation to you as the watchman at a railroad crossing,.

Fourth. Don’t indulge In friendly races in city streets. The results are too frequently painful in more ways than one.

Fifth. Don’t attempt to beat tho ‘stop-go’ sign just as the policeman is changing the signal. If you’re traveling south the driver of a car going east may also attempt to pass the corner as the sign turns.

Sixth. Use your horn judiciously in warning pedestrians. The average automobile horn has the effect just the opposite of what is desired; it frightens and causes indecision. (more…)

Have you met Uncle Sam, MD?

Have you met Uncle Sam, MD?

In the early 1920’s the United States Public Health Service section on Public Health Education supplied a daily health column, “Uncle Sam, M. D.,” for publication in newspapers throughout the country.

Combined with a system of questions and answers; the column supplied news on health matters two or three times a week to 10,000 newspapers, periodicals, and organizations. It also supplied health articles to the Foreign Information Bureau and produced motion-picture films to build a stereopticon loan library.

It was mostly newspapers in the west that carried the column.  The easiest to find are The Bismark Tribune and The Ogden Standard-Examiner.

One of the longest installments is one of my favorites.  It appeared in April 1920.

Public health

If you want better health, pay the price. Money spent in protecting the health and the likes the people is the best of all investments. Don’t be too eager to pass more health laws; provide sufficient means enforce those already on the statute books.

It is a well-known axiom that public health is, within certain limits, a purchasable commodity, and that each community practically fixes by its sanitary policy its sickness and disease rates from such preventable diseases as typhoid fever, malaria, tuberculosis, smallpox, etc. The best indication of the adequate or inadequacy with which a community is handling his health problems is shown in the ability of the existing health organization to lessen the prevalence of sickness.

In the interests of economy and efficiency, for instance, all sanitary work, be it child hygiene, industrial sanitation, school hygiene, milk control, etc, should be centralized and coordinated under properly equipped departments of health. Local health administration must be strengthened by the employment of health officers giving their entire time to their duty and fully responsible to the state department of health. The public health service holds that at least 2% of the public revenue should be spent for sanitary work, since for no other expenditures is so much profit ultimately derived.