Guide to the William O. Richtmann, RG 83

Listed by: Dieter C. Ullrich
Date: August 2003

Date Span:

3.0 cubic feet.

Number of Boxes:
3 record center boxes.

Historical or Biographical Sketch:
William O. Richtmann was born in Arcadia, Wisconsin, on November 30, 1876. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in pharmacy in 1897. After teaching at Wisconsin for four years, Richtmann found employment with the United States Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry in Washington, D.C., from 1902-1906. While with the USDA, Richtmann investigated the properties of medicinal plants. In 1906 he took over the management of the Satsuma Company, Satsuma Heights, Florida, the first camphor production facility in the United States.

Richtmann left the camphor garden in 1915 to begin doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned the Ph.D. degree in pharmacy and botany in 1919. Named to the faculty upon his graduation, Dr. Richtmann resumed his teaching career at his alma mater. He was appointed full professor of pharmacognosy in 1935 and held the position until his death in 1947. During his years at the University of Wisconsin, Richtmann was the Superintendent of the Pharmaceutical Gardens near Madison, part of the Wisconsin Pharmaceutical Experiment Station.

Scope and Content:
William O. Richtmann was an authority on medical plants and the history of their use in the healing arts. This collection reflects his interest in an interdisciplinary field, which merges botany, pharmacognosy and history. The Richtmann collection is a valuable resource for the study of the evolution of the science and business of pharmacy. Researchers will find useful primary and rare secondary sources pertaining to the history of drug dispensing in America and abroad. The Richtmann collection also contains important data on the commercial production of drug plants in America in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. In addition, this collection includes an extensive group of photographs and color prints which well illustrate the plant species with which Richtmann spent his career. Also of special interest is a collection of pamphlets on drug plant locations, uses, production and sales. Some published materials in the Richtmann Collection date to the 1850s, but he created the bulk of these records between 1885 and 1945.

Item list:
Box 1

Box 2 Box 3

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