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Vermont State Pharmaceutical Association Papers

Identifier: mss-564

Scope and Contents

The Vermont State Pharmaceutical Association Records contain mostly correspondence received by Harold Edward Colman while he served as its president. Official documents issued by the National Recovery Administration and The National Association of Retail Druggists are present alongside correspondence from Vermont members and Senators Gibson and Prouty. General printed matter on the pharmaceutical trade, questionnaires and survey results, posters, price lists, press releases, and requests for financial support, publicity materials, and a convention program are also present.

The following issues were of particular interest to the Vermont Druggists Group: 1) prophylactics and contraceptives regulation 2) liquor regulation 3) permits to sell spirituous liquors in pharmacies 4) drugs to “drugstores only” 5) druggist conditions 6) communication between druggists, representatives and senators to promote state legislation 7) cooperation with manufacturers about fair pricing 8) right not to sell/display goods that do not allow a living profit 9) tobacco regulation.

Of note are two texts used to promote “National Pharmacy Week” during which pharmacists celebrated an educational “open house”. The short texts (unsigned) explained to the public the key role that the druggist played in the community, and presented a short history of this profession since its beginnings.

A key document in the collection is the 1930 application for membership in the American Pharmaceutical Association. It contains extensive information about the benefits of membership; the organization’s history; its purpose; the membership requirements; and the different eligible groups such as manufacturers, salesmen, and students. The application includes an engraving of the building of the American Institute of Pharmacy, in Washington, D.C., which was inaugurated in May, 1934. It symbolizes the growth and significance of the field with an aim to influence national legislation, engage in public education, and continue advancing the field through genuine science. The application serves as a snapshot of several aims of the association at a time of growth including oversight of the training of pharmacists, public education, promoting research, public health, increasing cooperation between local and state associations, and improving enforcement of laws to regulate and protect the practice.

Of particular importance is the speech by the person who identifies as the “Chair of group I.” It was given during Colman’s presidency but the author is not stated. The speech summarizes all the threats that pharmacists in Vermont perceived as requiring government control through “protective” legislation. It calls for unifying and making a common front for promoting change.

Another item of interest is a label stating “we believe that drugs should be sold by registered druggists in drug stores.” This statement is also printed in the stationery of the “Vermont Druggist Groups, an organization of Druggists to Promote Better Conditions in Pharmacy.” The letters using this particular stationery offer a clear view of the goals, the organizational structure, and activities of this local network. The ten groups (originally 12) were geographically organized responding to a strategy that is discussed and diagrammed in the correspondence of Mr. F. W. Wheeler, who acted as chair of the 10 group “captains”. Their network ensured efficient communication and action among the related industries, pharmacists, customers, the federal government, and the NRA. Members of the Vermont State Pharmaceutical Association in these groups were encouraged to reach out to non-member pharmacists and to the general public. Their monthly meetings were open to the public.

Note that the presence of the blue eagle symbol indicates support of and cooperation with the National Recovery Administration (NRA). For example, material from the National Code Authority for the Retail Tobacco Trade bears this symbol.

The term druggist, as used in the material, can be synonymous with a trained pharmacist; but, it can also be used to mean a person who owns, operates, or works in a drug store in a capacity that handles medicines. At this time, many drug stores sold a variety of health-related goods and everyday items as well as running soda fountains and lunch counters. The terms drug store and pharmacy can be used synonymously, though a pharmacy is usually more specifically engaged in the dispensing of medicine and can be sited inside a drug store.

The collection is arranged chronologically.


  • 1933-1935



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

This collection demonstrates the impact of the New Deal on the local drugstores and pharmacies through the policies of the National Recovery Administration (NRA). The NRA aimed to eliminate fierce competition by bringing industry, labor, and government together to create codes of fair practices and set prices. The purpose was to stimulate business recovery during the Great Depression. The Vermont State Pharmaceutical Association was involved in organizing locally and sharing information from the national conversation, which included the American Pharmaceutical Association, the Drug Institute of America, state senators and representatives in Washington, and local business owners. This collection also contains correspondence regarding the dismantlement of the NRA, which was debated before ending in 1935. The contents illustrate with great clarity activism and lobbying activities to realize the NRA goals in Vermont. It offers concrete examples of how the objectives of the New Deal were met by seeking to give voice and visibility to a profession whose members felt misunderstood by the public at a time that their livelihood was threatened by competition from grocery stores, gas stands, department stores, barber shops, peddlers, liquor store, and untrained sales clerks.

Harold Edward Colman was born in 1896 in Boston, Massachusetts to Edward J. Colman and Eva M. (Crosby) Colman. In 1917 he married Marietta E. Gibson (b. circa 1900). They had two children, John F. Colman (1919-1992) and Terence Colman (1922-2010), who both served in World War II. In 1919, Harold graduated from The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy as a registered Assistant Pharmacist. Harold and Marietta divorced; she later married Richard W. Churchill. John and Terence lived with them and they had three children together. Harold moved around Vermont in the ensuing years. In 1925 he was employed as a drug clerk in Burlington. In 1927, he married Sara Clark Adams (1892-1968) in Brandon, VT. In 1929, they lived in Rutland. They had a son named William Adams Colman (1930-1987) while living in Proctor. Harold gave his profession as druggist or pharmacist. In 1932, Harold worked for the Drown Drug Company and they lived at 39 Ayers Street, Barre. This is the address used for most of the correspondence in this collection. In 1935, the Colmans purchased Sanborn’s drug store. Located in the Flynn building on Main Street in Burlington, it also ran a lunch counter and soda fountain. He ran Colman’s Pharmacy there for almost 10 years. Harold died on December 25, 1944. He was a member of the Congregational Church and a ranking Mason, having served in various offices. Sara had worked in the business and continued to run it after his death. She employed registered pharmacists, clerks, and part time workers for the lunch counter and soda fountain. She had graduated from Albany Business College and worked as a stenographer prior to her marriage. Sara was a member of the Vermont Pharmaceutical Association and National Association of Retail Druggists. The company suffered damage in a fire in February of 1946 but it reopened that May. Their son William graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in 1952 and worked as a pharmacist in the family business. He sold the business in 1983 and continued to work as a pharmacist. He too served as president of the Vermont State Pharmacy Association.

Note that Colman is not spelled consistently in the material. The expression used in this finding aid is taken from stationery of the Vermont State Pharmaceutical Association and external records. Some correspondence is addressed to him using the spelling "Coleman."


0.4 Linear Feet (1 box, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



The collection contains correspondence written to Harold E. Colman as President of the Vermont State Pharmeceutical Association. Subjects include price fixing, the drug retail code, publicity, and the National Recovery Administration (NRA), as part of the New Deal.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the Vermont Pharmaceutical Association Papers
2018 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)