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Patent medicine almanacs

Call Number: Pam Coll 3

Scope and Contents

The almanacs in this collection were issued annually by American and a few Canadian companies to promote the sale of their proprietary remedies. The remedies were secret rather than actually patented, and exaggerated claims were made for what they could cure. Almanacs were distributed free to customers by drug stores. Typically the back cover of the almanac carried an advertisement for an individual pharmacy. Often the almanacs had a hole at the top left, through which a string was tied so that they could be hung on a nail on the wall. Two almanacs are in miniature format.


  • 1843-1966


Language of Materials

Almanacs are mostly in English with examples of German, French, and Swedish.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.


Almanacs in the first series have been arranged by short title. Titles of almanacs often vary from year to year. Depending on the consistency, titles may fall in more than one place with cross references. Sometimes variant titles have been grouped. Pamphlets in the second series have been retained in the order established by the collector.

Related Materials

Related collections at the Medical Historical Library include the Sheet music collection on medical themes (Pam Coll 5), the Medical trade card collection (Pam Coll 6), and the William Helfand collection of medical ephemera (Pam Coll 8).


5 Linear Feet (10 boxes and 3 albums)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection contains almanacs issued annually by American and a few Canadian companies to promote the sale of their proprietary remedies. Of special note is a complete collection of Hostetter's Almanac from 1867 through 1910.

Custodial History

Some almanacs were transferred from Sterling Memorial Library in the 1940s. Many others were donated by William H. Helfand. The Supplement contains additional almanacs and a few other patent medicine pamphlets collected by Lloyd Moore and donated by his daughter Kathi Moore Sherman in 2018.

Separated Materials

Some patent medicine almanacs in the Medical Historical Library have been cataloged separately on Orbis. For titles in this collection, the existence of other issues has been noted. Other titles not represented include Hop Bitters Almanac for 1877, Brayley's Family Medical Almanac 1883, Kickapoo Almanac, 1893, and "Rough on Rats" 1884 Almanac.

Processing Information

The dates supplied are the years that the almanacs cover, not the year of publication, which might be the year before. Many almanacs do not have formal publication information.

Patent medicine almanacs
Toby A. Appel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Medical Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Repository

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