The Story of Dr. A.W. Chase and his Receipt Books

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. ⁠ ⁠

Dr. A. W. Chase

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 Calendar Almanac – Museum of Health Care 996001637
Dr. Chase’s Business Postcard – Museum of Health Care

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.⁠

To learn about these artifacts and more, visit our online collection catalogue by clicking the button below.

Shaelyn Ryan <br>(Collections Technician/Assistant 2022)
Shaelyn Ryan
(Collections Technician/Assistant 2022)

Shaelyn Ryan is a recent graduate of Queen’s University, having completed her Bachelor’s degree in History in 2021, and is returning to Queen’s in the fall to pursue a Master’s degree in History. Either as a Summer Student or Work-Study Student through Queen’s University, Shaelyn has helped catalogue and research many of the museum’s collection of artefacts as a Collections Technician (since 2018). 

One thought on “The Story of Dr. A.W. Chase and his Receipt Books

  1. I bought this fascinating book at a yard sale for 5 bucks. Back then they prescribed things like morphine, laudunum, belladonna and cocaine for whatever ailed ya. Some things just can’t be improved upon. Also many illustrations of the human body. A treasure trove of tried and true. Dr AW Chase was a great humanitarian who treated those who could not pay from the goodness of his heart. Make Medicine Great Again!

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