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Pharmacy in History


During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when generalists rather than specialists and individuals rather than organizations dominated the course of scientific development, German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) stood out as a leading figure in such diverse yet interrelated fields as geography, geology, botany, medicine, and pharmacy. And despite the massive body of historical writings on Humboldt, little is known concerning his contributions to pharmacy and his relationship to the discipline's practitioners. Wolfgang-Hagen Hein ably fills this void in scholarship with his well-researched Alexander von Humboldt und die Pharmazie. The significance of this topic to the history of science should not be underestimated, since during Humboldt's lifetime pharmacy not only was transformed in terms of new knowledge concerning both inorganic compounds and organic natural products, but also because as a discipline it was an important source of manpower for the "new" chemistry initiated by Lavoisier and others.

Beginning with the turn of the nineteenth century an emerging generation of chemists left the apothecary shop for the opportunities of the rapidly developing German university. These former apothecaries- like Heinrich and Gustav Rose-applied the knowledge and skills gained during apprenticeship within a new institutional setting and thus provided much of the academic leadership necessary for the gradual evolution of chemical science in Germany in the decades before Justus von Liebig's spectacular rise to preeminence.

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Book's citation information: Hein, Wolfgang-Hagen. Alexander von Humboldt und die Pharmacie. Stuttgart, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1988.


American Institute of the History of Pharmacy





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