Pious Traders in Medicine

A German Pharmaceutical Network in Eighteenth-Century North America

By (author) Renate Wilson

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 November 2000

Length of book:

272 pages

Publisher

Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271028330

This book tells the story of two generations of Pietist ministers sent from Halle, in Brandenburg Prussia during the eighteenth century, to the German communities of North America. In conjunction with their clerical office, these ministers provided medical services using pharmaceuticals and medical texts brought with them from Europe. Their practice is an example of how different medical markets and medical cultures evolved in North America.

At the heart of the story is the Francke Orphanage, a famous religious and philanthropic foundation started in Halle in 1696. Pharmaceuticals from Halle were manufactured and sold throughout Europe as part of a commercial enterprise designed to support Francke’s charitable goals. Halle’s reputation for consistent product quality and safety soon spread to North America, where men and women became actively engaged in providing medical care to Lutheran and Reformed congregations along the east coast, mainly the backcountry of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. The story continues to about 1810, when Halle’s North American clergy had become independent from the motherhouse and American medical practice and education began to follow its own course.

Wilson draws upon a large array of correspondence, trading ledgers, and daybooks in European and American archives. Through these records she enables us to see firsthand the experience of men and women as both patients and practitioners. The result is a rare glimpse into the world of German medicine and the pharmaceutical trade in eighteenth-century North America.

“A fundamental contribution to the discussion of the ‘medical marketplace.’ Wilson demonstrates the intimate associations between religious and medical Pietism and their commercial underpinnings in ways previously hardly imagined. Her careful and painstaking archival investigations are presented clearly and vigorously. This is a path-breaking work of impeccable scholarship, innovative and well written.”

—Harold J. Cook, University of Wisconsin, Madison Medical School