Dr. Alvin W. Chase was born in New York State in 1817, and worked for much of his life as a travelling salesman of food and household remedies. In 1856, when he was nearly forty years old, Chase decided to take classes at the University of Michigan in hopes of getting his medical degree, but he had not learned Latin as a child and it was required to graduate.
Instead, he audited classes at the University of Michigan and earned his degree from the Eclectic Medical Institute in Cincinnati. During this time, he made money for his family by selling home remedies and recipes that he had learned about during his time as a salesman. Once he earned his degree, Dr. Chase practiced medicine in Ann Arbor and put together a book of recipes for home remedies.
Dr. Chase’s recipe books and various medications– his nerve food, kidney and liver pills, ointment, and others– sold very well long after Dr. Chase’s death in 1885. His final recipe book, Dr. Chase’s Last Receipt Book and Household Physician, was posthumously published as “the Memorial Edition.” His name and image were used to vigorously advertise his products well into the late 20th century, especially in Almanacs like the one pictured here, and his medical advice has continued to be passed down through the generations in both Canada and the United States.
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