UNC Pharmacy Photo Journey: 1897-1912

Click through this photo journey to explore the founding and early years of North Carolina’s first school of pharmacy

By Ryan McDaniel | Published September 10, 2022

The First Class at the School of Pharmacy - 1897

The School of Pharmacy began instruction on September 10, 1897. Seventeen students enrolled. Of those, four went on to graduate in 1899 with the degree of Graduate in Pharmacy (PhG).

Edward Vernon Howell, First Dean of the School of Pharmacy

Edward Vernon Howell was appointed Professor and later Dean of the newly-created School of Pharmacy. His starting salary was $25 a month - the equivalent of just $10,000 a year as of 2022. He did not rely on this salary as his primary source of income, though - he was part owner of Kyser Drug Co., a profitable business based in Rocky Mount, NC.

A Dean and an Athlete

1898 produced the only undefeated UNC Football team in history. Playing on the team was Edward Vernon Howell, Dean of the School of Pharmacy. Dean Howell scored the winning touchdown in the final game against Virginia.

New West

The first building occupied by the School of Pharmacy was New West. At first, the School occupied a lecture hall and two other rooms of this building, constructed in 1857, but quickly grew to occupy the entire first floor.

Cost for Enrollment - 1897

In 1897, UNC was advertising a tuition of $60. The School of Pharmacy tuition was slightly higher at $75 a year. In addition, there was a $5 per term registration fee and students could stay in the dorms for between $4-$10 per term. Board was available for an additional $8 per month.

Patent Medicine

One pernicious reality of the late 19th century, and one the School of Pharmacy tried to educate against were "patent medicines," tinctures or elixirs manufactured with no regulation as to their ingredients. Most of these contained high amounts of alcohol and many contained addictive/deadly chemicals such as morphine, opium, or cocaine.

Professional Classes

Until 1901 the School of Pharmacy (as well as the School of Medicine) were operated as private or partly private enterprises affiliated with the University. On January 25, 1901, with an appeal from President Venable, the Board of Trustees voted to bring these schools wholly within the University and make their department heads Deans.

First Flight at Kitty Hawk

In December of 1903, the Wright Brothers made history with the first powered flight of a heavier-than-air aircraft, covering 120 feet on a beach near Kitty Hawk, NC. The UNC School of Pharmacy was in its fifth year of instruction at the time.

Growing Enrollment

The pharmacy school's enrollment in the early 1900s peaked in the 1903 - 1904 term with 55 students. Photo from 1904 Yackety Yack.

Image of a commemerative stamp and newspaper clipping about the Pure Food and Drug Act

The Pure Food & Drug Act of 1906

In June 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt after passing through Congress. The law prevented “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs or medicines, and liquors.” It laid the groundwork for what would later become the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pictured above is a 1998 stamp commemorating the law and an ad touting Crab Orchard Druggists "Only the Best" standards.

The 1907-1908 Enrolled Pharmacy Students

Illustration and and photo from the 1908 Yackety Yack.

John Grover Beard Joins the School of Pharmacy

In 1909, John Grover Beard joined UNC as instructor in pharmacy. He would later become Dean of the pharmacy school after Howell’s departure in 1931.

The 1909-1910 Enrolled Pharmacy Students

Illustration and and photo from the 1910 Yackety Yack.

The 1911-1912 Enrolled Pharmacy Students

Illustration and and photo from the 1912 Yackety Yack.

Growth of the Pharmacy Profession in NC

The pharmacy profession showed strong growth in the larger cities of North Carolina between 1897 and 1912. The data above was published in the 1915 Carolina Journal of Pharmacy, John Grover Beard Editor-in-Chief.

The School Moves to Person Hall

As early as 1905, the School of Pharmacy was running out of room in its quarters at New West. It took until 1912 before the School was finally given new space in Person Hall, following the School of Medicine moving out of the building.

Celebrating 125 Years of Excellence

In 2022, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy celebrates 125 years of excellence as the nation’s top-ranked school of pharmacy by and for the people of North Carolina. Thank you for viewing this collection of photos from 1897-1912. Check back weekly for updates by decade and follow along on Facebook (@carolinapharmacystories), Instagram (@carolina pharmacy stories), and Twitter (@carolinarxstory).