American Pharmacists Month: William Proctor Jr. (1817-1874)

Special Note: During the Month of October, American Pharmacists Month, we will be highlighting historical and present pharmacy figures who have contributed significantly during the profession.

Contributed by: Ralph Roy (P1, Class of 2019)

williamproctorjrWilliam Proctor Jr. is considered the ‘father of American pharmacy’ for the numerous contributions he made to the field of apothecary. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland as the youngest of nine children. When he was 14, he apprenticed at a drug store in Philadelphia. And soon after he graduated from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1837.

Proctor opened his own drugstore in 1844 and also taught at his alma mater from 1846 till 1866 and then again from 1872 till his death in 1874. He was the author/editor of the first pharmacy textbook published in America, Practical Pharmacy: The arrangement, apparatus and manipulations of the pharmaceutical shop and laboratory. He also was editor, author and co editor of about 550 articles in American Journal of Pharmacy, the fist national pharmacy journal. In 1853, he was part of a committee that wrote a paper on the standard quality of drugs, together with tests for detecting adulteration, and in 1856, he made a report to the association on the progress of pharmacy in the United States. Proctor also served on committees for the decennial revision of the “Pharmacopoeia” for thirty years, and assisted Drs. Wood and Bache in several editions of the “Dispensatory.”

He was corresponding secretary of the College of pharmacy for twelve years, and from 1867 to 1874 was first vice-president. He imparted his own energy and enthusiasm in the investigations of the truth of science especially in profession of pharmacy. Proctor’s innovations in percolation processes and his role in setting up pharmaceutical standards on United States Pharmacopeia (USP) as well as his support for the establishment of American Pharmaceutical Association brought him admiration from his colleagues as well as moving the profession of pharmacy forward to new heights.


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