The French Society for History of Pharmacy is delighted to have the opportunity of inviting you to Paris in September 2013 for the 41st International Congress for History of Pharmacy. Paris, in addition to its well-known tourist attractions, is also a very rich place in relation to history of pharmacy and history of medicine.
The main themes of this congress relate to two important anniversaries which are of great interest for history of pharmacy. Both occurred in Paris: the first is the foundation in 1913 of the “Société d’Histoire de la Pharmacie”; and the second is the death of Antoine-Augustin Parmentier in 1813.
The history of history of pharmacy
When it has been created in 1913 the “Société d’Histoire de la Pharmacie” was the first society of its kind in the world. Many other countries went on to follow this initiative during the course of the 20th century. The emergence of these societies reflected a preoccupation of the pharmaceutical profession which is still with us today, namely a wish to rediscover its roots and to explore its heritage in order to better prepare the future and adapt itself to necessary changes.
Pharmacy has of course been heavily influenced by developments in other areas, and we can observe that many historians of pharmacy come from outside the pharmaceutical field. There is a general interest in the history of pharmacy in the wider society: the history of medicines is of interest to every potential patient; old remedies often generate curiosity and fascination amongst the general public; and the safety and reliability of treatments concern everyone.
Our congress will explore research in a wide range of areas. These include the study of how the history of pharmacy has evolved in different countries, of how differences appeared in applying historical methodology to pharmacy in different countries, and of how the various philosophies underlying the diversity of publications, and the approaches to the history of pharmacy in universities, came to be accepted.
The life and work of Parmentier
The second theme of the congress is Parmentier and the various areas of interest associated with him. This military pharmacist, who died in 1813, was interested in various fields of science: the diffusion of knowledge, military pharmacy, hygiene, food and nutrition (the potato was just one of his interests) and nutritional chemistry, amongst other things. But his main objective was always to ensure that science was directed towards the improvement of the welfare of human beings.
The congress will thus be an opportunity to develop many aspects of the history of pharmacy, as well as to study the relationships between pharmacists and society. In all countries, pharmacists are interested in numerous science and society subjects, and the life of Parmentier was a very good illustration of this. He lived through the turmoil of the French Revolution, still pursuing scientific research directed towards better health for poor people.
We hope this 41st International Congress for the History of Pharmacy will constitute for all our colleagues a great opportunity to increase their knowledge, and to have fruitful meetings with other historians coming from all parts of the world.
Société d’Histoire de la Pharmacie
4, avenue de l’Observatoire 75270 PARIS Cedex 06 France