Two Years Down, One Year to Go

As we enter into the 3rd year of the Historic Southern Naturalists Project, Josh Schutzenhofer (UofSC Digital Collections) and Linda Smith (McKissick Museum, UofSC) take a look at some of the different specimens and artifacts that have been digitized and catalogued during this one project.

The Historic Southern Naturalists project encompasses many institutions across campus and even the state. The collections are as varied as the contributors and working in the UofSC Digital Collections I am one of the first to see the project contributions as they come together. How exciting?!

We are now entering our final year of this multi-year project and I can tell you…I have seen some pretty interesting items and so, I thought I would share a few of the varied objects I have come across over the last two years…

Where do we start on this journey? Let’s look at the science first…plants, shells, minerals…there are some specimens that are outrageously beautiful and some that are dull and honestly ugly. (shhhh! We won’t identify the ugly ones!)

Take a look at these plant specimens:

Check out this beauty of a mineral:

And the shells…

How about an early preview of a meteorite which hasn’t been uploaded yet?

While sharing the scientific images and data associated with them are extremely interesting and important work, connecting these objects with correspondence, manuscripts, post cards, etc…is also important.

Correspondence like this one:


“My dear sir

I have not been unmindful of you since I came up to Aiken, & have several times been on the point of writing, but my time has been almost wholy engulfed in preparing my 3rd Fasc[icle].

With respect to the Phaenograms in your list of desiderata, I fear I can do but little towards supplying your wants. I have not collected, but very sparingly for several years, in this department _ and a large majority of those you indicate, I know I have not. Neither of the Kalmias, nor Saxifraga erosa, mentioned in your last, have I got. Some of the ferns I have in my herbarium, but no duplicates. The Listeras and Cranichis, I have collected, but of this last I furnished you whilst in St. Johns.

My duplicates are all packed away in a box, which it would take me several days to over-haul and examine. and if the search for them would be rewarded with success, I would cheerfully undertake the task to oblige you, but knowing there are not more than two or three things which could be found_ I must postpone it until you call for them in propria persona – I wish I had a stronger inducement to offer.

I might do something for you among the Crypts. if I knew your wants in their orders.”

Manuscripts like this one:

Finally, historically speaking, documenting the objects associated with the naturalists gives another perspective to these historical naturalists.

Like Thomas Cooper’s watch fob given to him by Thomas Jefferson or these scientific slides.

Above: Four glass slides stored in a specially designed plastic storage container.

Below: A slide of wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum) during cell division by meiosis in the archesporial stage. Prepared by A. C. Moore when he was at the University of Chicago (as evidenced by the labels on the slides). This slide documents the first known reference to the term ‘meiosis’ in history!!

Wow! Such a varied assortment of institutions, objects, and information is collected in this one project. But stay tuned…we have one more year of exciting images to share!

[Crossposted from original blog:]

The Heart of the Grand Strand: Myrtle Beach

Aerial View of Myrtle Beach circa 1940, WPA Photograph Collection, South Caroliniana Library
Aerial View of Myrtle Beach circa 1940, WPA Photograph Collection, South Caroliniana Library

Contributed by Virginia Pierce and Laura Blair (2015). Edits and additions by Kate Boyd (2020).

[This blog was first written in 2015 for the Historical Newspapers. Since then we have added a number of Horry County newspapers where Myrtle Beach is located and we have scanned all of the South Carolina Postcards in our collections, which include many images of Myrtle Beach.]

The summer is in full swing and many of us are thinking about sticking our toes in the sand with the sound of crashing waves in the background.  Hitting the beach is a common getaway during the summer months and many know that one of the most popular tourist destinations along the East Coast for beach-goers is right here in South Carolina: Myrtle Beach.  Seeing several million visitors each year, Myrtle Beach sits at the heart of the Grand Strand and boasts an array of tourist attractions in addition to its sandy beaches.

Air view, Myrtle Beach, showing the piers, "America's finest strand," 1950, South Carolina Postcards, South Caroliniana Library
Air view, Myrtle Beach, showing the piers, “America’s finest strand,” 1950, South Carolina Postcards, South Caroliniana Library

In our lifetime it seems Myrtle Beach has always been the epitome of a beach destination; however, for all its popularity and success, Myrtle Beach has a relatively short history that dates back to right before the turn of the 20th century.

Situated in Horry County, the Myrtle Beach area remained uninhabited and unchanged for most of its early life. Due to its remote location, few Europeans attempted to colonize the area. It wasn’t until the 1880’s that the location began to see some settlement activity when the Burroughs & Collins Company out of Conway decided to buy land in the area for timber and set up a logging camp. Employees at the camp headed to the nearby beach on their days off. Additionally, the company built a railroad from Conway to the coastline in order to extract the timber. Once the railroad was in place and word spread of access to the coast, development in the area quickly picked up.

The "Personal" section of the Marlboro Democrat (Bennettsville, S.C.) mentions a family vacationing at the beach in 1903.
The “Personal” section of the Marlboro Democrat (Bennettsville, S.C.) mentions a family vacationing at the beach in 1903.

Initially the location didn’t have a formal name, and locals simply referred to the new train stop as New Town (perhaps in contrast to nearby Conway’s nickname of Old Town). A contest was eventually held for people to originate a name.  The winning contestant drew inspiration from the popular plant in the area, the wax myrtle, and the name Myrtle Beach was born.

Newspaper Men Meet at Myrtle Beach, Watchman and Southron, 1922, South Caroliniana Library
Newspaper Men Meet at Myrtle Beach, Watchman and Southron, 1922, South Caroliniana Library

Aside from the business potential, the Burroughs & Collins Company realized the possible tourist potential in this new area. In 1901, they built the area’s first hotel, the Seaside Inn.  A bathhouse and pavilion shortly followed. The company also began selling beachfront properties for twenty-five dollars. Throughout the summer months of the early 1900’s, the mention of Myrtle Beach in local newspapers quickly rose as families began traveling there for recreation and relaxation. The area soon became a popular destination spot, especially for those living in nearby South Carolina towns who could easily travel to the beach on a short train ride.  As early as 1902, the Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.) included Myrtle Beach (via Conway) under their “Week-End Rates From Sumter to Popular Summer Resorts.” Advertisements for hotels also begin to appear in papers around the state, enticing tourists to come and stay on the “Finest Strand on the Atlantic Seaboard.”

Myrtle Beach, SC, WPA Photograph Collection, South Caroliniana Library
Myrtle Beach, SC, WPA Photograph Collection, South Caroliniana Library

By the 1920’s, other developers saw the opportunity in the growing seaside town and began to further develop the area with hotels and golf courses, all aimed at vacationers. Myrtle Beach became a popular spot, seeing even conventions and conferences come to town such as ones for the South Carolina Press Association and the [South Carolina] State Dental Association.

An article in the Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.) draws attention to the upcoming South Carolina Press Association convention in Myrtle Beach in 1922. Although F. G. Burroughs (of Burroughs and Collins Company) had been the first to see the business potential in the area, it had also been his dream to see a resort town on the East Coast halfway between Miami and New York. After his death in 1897, his sons carried out his plan, developing the area and turning Myrtle Beach into one of the most popular seaside destinations in the country.


The Horry Herald, June 15, 1922
The Horry Herald, June 15, 1922
Camden Chronicle April 22, 1927
Camden Chronicle April 22, 1927














Epidemics Through the South Carolina Newspapers

By Kate Boyd

The Horry Herald, August 3rd, 1911. Page 3

If you are at home, like most of us these COVID-19 days, and looking for something to do, try a search in the South Carolina Historical Newspapers (SCHN) to see how past generations coped with similar situations. Better yet, focus the search on your city or county and you should find a few articles that might put some of what we are going through into perspective and help us realize that we will get through this. The SCHN repository contains small South Carolina newspapers dating from about 1815 to around the 1950s.  I searched for “pandemic” and “influenza” and ordered them by date, starting in 1911.

At the beginning there was not much. A 1907 article from The Ledger (Gaffney City, S.C.), discusses the history of pandemics and notes the Justinian Pandemic in the 6th century and the Black Death in the fourteenth century.

Fast forward to the twentieth century and there is an article in The Horry Herald (Conway, S.C.) from 1911 talking about the Asiatic Cholera which sounded scary and was also rampant in Italy and knocking on New York City’s door. Federal and State agencies worked hard to ensure that it did not spread.

The Herald and News, October 1, 1918

As 1918 arrives, there are a lot more hits. The Spanish Influenza was widespread and after retreating during the summer, returned hard in October.  The Library of Congress’s Research Guide can help you find articles on this topic from papers across the country, but many of the articles in the SCHN are only available through our local repository.  Some articles are duplicated in different papers and it begins to sound eerily like the present day. For instance, there were rules to not congregate. There were city ordinances to wear masks. Colleges, schools, theaters, and restaurants closed. Sundays were extremely quiet with no one attending church. Newspaper delivery relied on substitutes who did not know the routes; an issue we don’t have now that everything is online.  There were many articles from health organizations explaining what is going on and what to do. The Bamberg Herald on October 17, 1918 published an article, which shows up in a few papers, that gives “Uncle Sam’s Advices” stating that coughing and sneezing spreads the disease from person to person.

The Herald and News, October 1, 1918

A year later, The Edgefield Adviser on February 5, 1919 reports that the State Legislature in Columbia tried to take a recess until July, but the Senate voted that idea down.  In July of 1919, The Horry Herald reports that a doctor has a cure for the flu! Then, that fall the Lancaster News reports that the flu may come back.

By 1920 the local SC newspapers are turning to other news, but the Abbeville News and Banner published a report from a doctor about Pellagra, a vitamin deficiency, and how it was mostly stamped out in South Carolina. The report made sure to note that the after-affects are much worse than the flu.

In the early 2000’s, if you search through the USC student newspaper, The Gamecock, you find about 20 relevant results on articles about the SARS epidemic, or Bird Flu, that started in China. There is a small article in 2003 about travel bans because of the epidemic.  In 2005 and 2006, two articles really touch on some of the similarities that we are living through now. The

The Edgefield Adviser, February 5, 1919
The Edgefield Adviser, February 5, 1919

article, “Big Ten Universities Analyze Bird Flu Outbreak Possibilities,” is foreboding in what it says could happen on college campuses, and what we are trying to avoid now by staying home.  And, in 2006 an article talks about the potential of more viruses jumping from animals or birds to humans.

I find comfort in firsthand accounts of history, like newspaper articles, for they

show that people have dealt with similar issues before, and the stories they tell in the end are quite fascinating.  What stories will we be telling? How will life change once this is over? One thing they didn’t have helping them get through the Spanish Influenza is the Internet. We are certainly very fortunate to have that to keep us somewhat sane and connected to not only our friends and family, but our neighbors around the world.

A Year in the Life: James T. McCain and the Freedom Rides

By: Kaylin Daniels and Laura Stillwagon

James T. McCain (1905-2003) was a Civil Rights activist that was involved with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Freedom Riders, the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and community service in his hometown of Sumter, South Carolina. McCain’s deeds in the Civil Rights Era are numerous, and it’s difficult to select just a few to highlight from this collection of his personal calendars and planners. From court trials, civil engagements and encounters with the FBI, his actions are something to behold as are his records of the racial crimes he sought to end. Looking at one year of his life through his calendars, you can begin to piece together his tireless days in pursuit of equality.

From James T. McCain calendar, May 23, 1961, pg. 23
From James T. McCain calendar, May 23, 1961, pg. 23

Calendar Year 1961: Freedom Ride

The calendar McCain kept in 1961 contains details on notable events and figures of the Civil Rights Era (1954-1968), like the first Freedom Ride. The first ride in 1961 was led by CORE and consisted of a group of white and black activists that took an interstate bus from Washington D.C. to New Orleans to evaluate how effective the Supreme Court ruling on public bus desegregation truly was. McCain makes note of the arrests and trials of students who participated in this protest. Many of these participants were beaten despite their nonviolent protest (Pace, 1993). All the while, McCain continued recruiting and training more members to the cause from SC to New Orleans, all the way down to Florida. His unceasing efforts to keep the Movement going is astounding.

One major figure in this first Freedom Ride was James “Jim” Peck. McCain wrote at one point, “May 23rd, “Gov. of S.C. attacked Freedom Riders in state paper and especially Jim Peck. Ask[ed] Justice Dept. to investigate riders [sic.].” A white Civil Rights pacifist and a member of CORE, Peck was a non-violent activist, beginning in the 1940s with his membership with the War Resisters League (Pace, 1993). He played a large role in organizing the Freedom Ride from Washington state to Alabama, and he was amongst the few who were severely beaten when their trip ended in Birmingham (Gross, 2006). To read the full newspaper article, titled “Hollings Deplores Violence Asks Probe of ‘Riders’” by Bill Mahoney, click here [PDF will automatically download]. McCain’s notes on the SC Governor’s remarks concerning Peck and the other freedom riders serve as another account of the atmosphere at the time surrounding the efforts of those seeking racial equality using non-violent protests.

From James T. McCain Collection calendar, November 24, 1961, pg. 49
From James T. McCain Collection calendar, November 24, 1961, pg. 49

McCain himself was also impressive in his demeanor. He wrote about how the FBI paid him a visit on November 24th. They questioned him about the Trailways bus terminal accident that took place in Jackson, Mississippi on November 16th. His tone in the entry was very unconcerned. It was just another day in his life; to be added to his schedule as a simple report. This shows how courageous he was, and his passion for racial equality was more important than any fear of being hounded by authorities. McCain concluded 1961 strong, showing that he was not slowing down for this fight.

More on the way soon!

Processing this collection is something to behold. There are many other events, crimes and atrocities—many needless injuries and deaths—McCain has mentioned, and the steps he took to protest and end them. There is much more history to come as we finish up Box 1. Stay tuned!


Mizell and the AFSC

By Stephanie Gilbert

M. Hayes Mizell and Mary Berry, Assistant Secretary for Education, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare

The M. Hayes Mizell Papers is an important collection that Digital Collections (Digi) is currently working on.  This Civil Rights collection consists of over 160 boxes which is the largest that Digi is currently digitizing.  These past few months I have been scanning box 111 which is a collection of speeches by, or connected to, Mizell from the 1960’s and 70’s.  As mentioned in my previous blog, Hayes Mizell was the Director of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).  The AFSC is mentioned frequently in the majority of speeches scanned, which led me to research a bit more about them and Mizell’s connection with the group in South Carolina.

“Founded in 1917, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action” (About us, n.d.).  Established during World War I, the AFSC allowed objectors to serve their country without violence.  “They drove ambulances, ministered to the wounded, and stayed on in Europe after the armistice to rebuild war-ravaged communities” (AFSC history, n.d.).  The promotion of peaceful communities was not only a worldwide goal, but also a goal for smaller areas, such as South Carolina.  “By 1966 [Mizell] had come to work for AFSC as the South Carolina field representative of what was called ‘the American Friends Service Committee–NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund School Desegregation Task Force’” (Mizell, 1973, p. 2).  As their representative, he worked with people in the community, met with federal officials, and advocated for desegregation in schools.  In a way, Mizell became a voice for people who could not be heard.  He spoke up for lower income communities and worked hard for students and teachers who faced racial segregation as well as encouraging them to stand up for their rights and demand equal opportunities.

Bettye Boone, Hayes Mizell, and Jackie Williams – Southeastern Public Education Program – Staff Training for Title I Project, c. 1970’s

Mizell’s work reached far beyond the Civil Rights era and is still influencing people today.  The University of South Carolina’s African American Studies Program offers the Hayes Mizell Research Award.  This is awarded to students in African American Studies who utilize the Mizell Collection for scholarly research.  Each of the two students chosen receives five hundred dollars to aid in their research and writing. I am making steady progress digitizing the collection. Check back in March for an update!


Natural History, Digitized

By Mēgan A. Oliver, Digital Collections Librarian, UofSC. [Cross-posted from Mining McKissick, McKissick Museum’s blog]

Digitizing natural history collections is quickly becoming a specialty of ours, over at the Digital Collections department at the University of South Carolina Libraries. We’ve partnered with McKissick Museum for the past few years on their nationally grant-funded digitization project entitled ‘Historic Southern Naturalists’ (HSN); many thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the grant. This digital project has been highly collaborative and has produced a useful and beautiful web portal from which to access myriad museum collections of fossils, rocks, dried botanicals, and minerals, as well as the library’s collection of early naturalist manuscripts.

The Bahamas Titmous[e], first edition of Mark Catesby’s “The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands”, 1731.
Since the HSN digital collaboration yielded such great results in providing museum and library users with fantastic historical resources, we’re excited to be back at the beginning of a new natural history digital collection.

In 2019, UofSC officially established the Mark Catesby Centre, a collective of scientists, librarians, curators, rare book experts, and naturalists, with invested personnel spread across the United States and the United Kingdom. The Catesby Centre’s work revolves around researching and promoting the ever-important findings and illustrative records of Mark Catesby, a naturalist who came to study biology in the Carolinas, Florida, and the Bahamas almost three centuries ago. Catesby’s seminal work predates that of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus by 29 years, with Catesby’s first edition of natural history findings published in 1729. Linnaeus would not release his now-famous biological classification system until 1758. The entirety of Catesby’s work in his multivolume set “The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands” was published over the course of 18 years, beginning in May of 1729 and ending in July of 1747.

Digitizing these rare and sometimes delicate natural history items requires specialty scanners and camera equipment, fully trained staff, and a great deal of time and patience. We strive to ensure that the color balance and tone distribution captured with our digitization equipment is as true to the physical, original item as possible. Calibrating and staging a single shot or scan can take up to 30 minutes, or the process could involve multiple scans of the same item in order to get the digital facsimile just right. In our department, this attention to detail often captures the iridescence and depth of the pigments used to hand color illustrations, as well as the texture of paper and the organic signs of age that rare books exhibit. Our staff, often graduates of the School of Library and Information Science here at UofSC, take great pride in producing such detailed work, as digital collections like these provide researchers with the next best thing to seeing a rare item in person; seeing it anywhere in the world at any time, online.

Last year alone, we digitized and helped to format metadata (data that describes the digitized items online) for about 12,000 items for the Historic Southern Naturalists digital collection, and we scanned a little over 2,500 pages and prints from our Catesby rare books.  In creating yet another stunning natural history digital collection for students, scholars, and historians to peruse, we hope to create a diverse wealth of natural history primary resources online.



The Bahamas Titmous[e], first edition of Mark Catesby’s “The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands”, 1731.


Introduction to James T. McCain

By: Chauna Carr, Kaylin Daniels, and Laura Stillwagon

James T. McCain (1905-2003) was a Civil Rights activist remembered for his selfless volunteering and organized marches. One of his main endeavors was making it possible for African Americans to register to vote during the Civil Rights era. As a very active Civil Rights leader, he was incredibly organized, making note of everything he did, down to his car mileage. His collection is housed and maintained by the South Caroliniana Library here at the University of South Carolina, and consists of yearly calendars and notebooks used as day planners to organize his Civil Rights endeavors.

McCain was a huge supporter of the War Resisters League – many of his calendars held at South Caroliniana Library are from this organization. For those who do not know, the War Resisters League has been around since 1932. They work to spread nonviolence and advocate to end war. As shown by their calendar covers, the League supported other movements and prominent non-violent figures of social justice, like a calendar in the McCain collection that includes a dedication to Mahatma Gandhi, and one to Jessie Wallace Hughan, an American educator, social activist, and radical pacifist.

Another calendar supports equality for women, and another promotes Civil Rights peace with the gospel song lyrics “We shall overcome”. One of our favorite calendars includes a photographic collection of the Civil Rights Movement and some other fun features like rock and roll music lyrics and an uplifting message for peace. The calendars themselves are very inspiring; with many motivational poems and quotes included throughout. McCain interacted extensively with his calendars and each one shows what he believed and aligned with. Illustrated with the pacifistic nature of Gandhi, equality for women, and using one’s right to protest, the calendar covers were a reminder of what McCain was fighting for.

“We Shall Overcome”, 1964 Calendar cover by War Resisters League
“We Shall Overcome”, 1964 Calendar cover by War Resisters League
1960 Engagement Calendar created by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
1960 Engagement Calendar created by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
“Days of Gandhi”, 1969 Calendar by War Resisters League
“Days of Gandhi”, 1969 Calendar by War Resisters League

McCain used his calendars to plan his events, track his meetings and travels, and record other miscellaneous things about his daily life; for instance, he logged his speedometer readings, meal prices, and resting days. On top of recording local community accomplishments, he always tried to acknowledge the achievements of people of color by taping or stapling news coverage of their successes directly into his calendars. For example, he wrote:

“Sumter schools reopen today – black parents and citizens negotiated with school authorities not to dismiss students to roam the streets again but try to deal with protesters at sch. Mission successful.”



Here are some other examples:

“Negro Will Be Horry County Town’s Mayor” news clipping from the State, August 20, 1968
“Negro Will Be Horry County Town’s Mayor” news clipping from the State, August 20, 1968
“Negro Leads Conway Vote” news clipping from the State, Oct. 9, 1968
“Negro Leads Conway Vote” news clipping from the State, Oct. 9,

James T. McCain was a prolific figure working behind the scenes during the Civil Rights movement. The South Caroliniana Library is in the process of preserving and displaying McCain’s collection, and Digital Collections is working in collaboration with them to digitize his work. We’re digitizing this archival collection of day planners as part of a university awarded ASPIRE II grant, written by Graham Duncan, Head of Collections and Curator of Manuscripts at South Caroliniana Library; Bobby J. Donaldson, Associate Professor and Head of the Center for Civil Rights History and Research; and Mēgan A. Oliver, Digital Collections Librarian.

There’s still more to come! This project is still in process and on track to being completed this semester. We are looking forward to learning more, and sharing more, about James T. McCain!


Introduction to the M. Hayes Mizell Papers

By Stephanie Gilbert

My name is Stephanie Gilbert and I am one of the new Digital Assistants here at Digital Collections. Perhaps some of you have heard of Hayes Mizell. For several years, Mizell was a prominent Civil Rights Activist.  He served as director of the South Carolina Community Relations Program of the American Friends Service Committee from 1966-1982, and in one of his speeches likened his role to that of a “professional advocate”.  Mizell traveled all over the U.S. delivering speeches in support of school integration and educational improvements for students from low-income families. His collection includes personal images of himself and his associates as well as letters, programs, and copies of his many speeches.

Three Negative Strips from a Photoshoot for Hayes Mizell 
Three Negative Strips from a Photoshoot for Hayes Mizell
Hayes Mizell Giving a Speech 
Hayes Mizell Giving a Speech









So, what exactly is my role when digitizing this collection?  As the digital assistant, the first step is always scanning.  I ensure that each item is clearly scanned, edited, and stored in the proper format. Next, I create metadata that is entered into an excel spreadsheet which will then be run through a series of programs to polish the data.  It then gets loaded online through ContentDM which makes it public so that researchers have full access to the materials.  Though this process is lengthy and detail heavy, it ensures that another format of the materials exist, so the documents are preserved physically and digitally.

Speech by Hayes Mizell to AFSC Middle Atlantic Regional Office Fall Retreat, October 2, 1976 
Speech by Hayes Mizell to AFSC Middle Atlantic Regional Office Fall Retreat, October 2, 1976

New job + new skill set = amazing!  I am thoroughly enjoying my time here at Digital Collections.  I have found it quite refreshing to meet new people and learn more about a different area of information science.  The environment is quiet, peaceful, and filled with friendly people who are a pleasure to work with and learn from.  I am also enjoying the Mizell Collection.  I find that I always become fond of whatever collection I work on.  I tend to form an emotional connection through physically handling documents, and the items in this collection to me serve as the physical embodiment of Mizell’s influence in the community.  It is so easy to form an attachment when you think of his work in this way.  It is also eye-opening to preserve items digitally as opposed to physically rehousing with folders and boxes.  I look forward to what else my future spent with Digital Collections and the Hayes Mizell Collection will hold!

How To Cure a Cold in One Day: and Other Medicinal Oddities from the Past

By Allison Rogers

Hey. How are you feeling? Do you have a runny nose? A slight but persistent cough? Perhaps even a fever? Sounds like a cold to me. And if you’re in Gaffney, South Carolina in 1905, you’re in luck! This excerpt of a 1905 issue of ‘The Ledger’ from Gaffney, South Carolina reads “To cure a cold in one day, take Laxative Bromo Quinine Cold Tablets!”

The Ledger Friday, December 9, 1904
The Ledger Friday, December 9, 1904

Widely known as a cure for influenza, the Bromo Quinine tablets’ main active ingredient was quinine hydrobromide, which resulted in long term psychiatric and neurological damage to those who consistently ingested the tablets (Olson, 2003; “Bromo Quinine Cold Tablets,” 2019)

Perhaps your illness is more serious, and you have determined that you suffer from a “disease of circulation” (whatever that means). Good thing you have Handcock’s Liquid Sulphur! You have at last found “nature’s own remedy from the bosom of Mother Earth”.

The Ledger Friday, November 25, 1904
The Ledger Friday, November 25, 1904

Two years later in November of 1907, an inspector from the Department of Agriculture (DOA) purchased the Liquid Sulphur. One of the samples was subjected to analysis in the Bureau of Chemistry at the DOA and was determined to consist of an aqueous solution of commercial calcium sulphid, which was not a natural germicide, as was claimed on the label. The bureau found that the claims made by Handcock’s Liquid Sulphur were “false, misleading, and deceptive” (Gane & Webster, 1909).

The Ledger Friday, November 4, 1904
The Ledger Friday, November 4, 1904

Finally, we have everyone’s favorite medicine Pe-ru-na, used to treat about anything you can think of. Peruna was one of the most popular medicines sold from the late 19th to mid 20th century. Samuel Hartman, creator of Peruna, was making as much as $100,000 a day from the product, which was believed to work so well that babies were named after it (Hunter, 2012). In 1906, a claim was made that Peruna and other patent-medicines were frauds, alleging that Peruna itself was 28% alcohol. This claim, among others, led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (Kennedy, 2000), whose main purpose was to ban diluted or mislabeled food and drug products. Basically, the law was a “truth in labeling” law designed to raise standards in the food and drug industries and protect the reputations and pocketbooks of honest businessmen.

To check out more ads with absurd scientifically falsified claims, check out the Historical Newspapers of South Carolina! The clippings seen here are from The Ledger, which we are hard at work digitizing. Until it’s released, check out our other new titles which also feature fun medical solutions for your ailments: McCormick Messenger and The Sun (Newberry, SC).



Works Cited

Olson, K. R., Anderson, I. B., & Benowitz, N. L. (2004). Poisoning & drug overdose. New York: Lange

Bromo Quinine Cold Tablets.; Grove Laboratories; 1940s; Fincham Collection 237. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Gane, E. H. & Webster, M. H. (1909). Laboratory Notes from the Analytical Department of McKesson & Robbins. Drug Topics, 24(2), p.22

Hunter, B. (2012). A historical guidebook to old Columbus: Finding the past in the present in Ohio’s capital city.

Kennedy, S.  (2000, February). Adams, Samuel Hopkins (1871-1958), muckraker and writer. American National Biography. Retrieved 26 Nov. 2019, from