The Medical Messiahs:
A Social History of Health Quackery
in Twentieth-Century America

James Harvey Young, PhD

The 1966 edition of this book described the development of patent medicines in America from the enactment in 1906 of the Pure Food and Drugs Act through the mid-1960s. In 1992, an afterword was added to summarize what had happened during the previous 25 years. Dr. Young (1915-2006) was a social historian whose special interest was the development of food and drug regulation in America. He served for many years as a professor of history at Emory University and also wasas a member of the FDA National Advisory Food and Drug Council. The book is reproduced with the kind permission from him and the publisher, Princeton University Press.





Brane-Fude: The first court trial under the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act


The Lawless Centuries: History and stage-setting for health quackery in 20th-century America


A Decade of Enforcement: Valiant efforts, a Supreme Court defeat, and ambiguous help from Congress


Fraud in the Mails: Enforcement of postal fraud statutes from the late 19th century through the 1920s


B. & M.: A decade-long effort to prove fraud in court during the golden glow of prosperity


"Truth in Advertising": Cooperative efforts by the self-regulators and the Federal Trade Commission to restrict the most flagrant abuses of nostrum advertising


The New Muckrakers: The American Medical Association keeps muckraking currents flowing until the next floodtide: the "guinea pig" school of critics


The New Deal and the New Laws: The hotly contested effort to make federal controls over self-medication drugs more nearly adequate to social need


Pursuit of the Diminishing Promise: Food and Drug Administration use of the new law to drive false claims from labeling step by step through court interpretation


Two Gentlemen from Indiana: A diabetes clinic run by two physician-brothers named Kaadt


The Gadget Boom: Device quackery in America, highlighting Ruth B. Drown's Radio Therapeutic Instrument


The Chemotherapeutic Revolution: The way the "wonder drugs" era of prescription medication influenced patterns of self-medication


Mail-Order "Health": The Post Office Department's contest with medical fraud since the 1930s


Proprietary Advertising and the Wheeler-Lea Act: The triumphs and failures of the Federal Trade Commission in aiming its 1938 law against abuses in the advertising of self-medication wares


Medicine Show Impresario: A Louisiana state senator and his medicine show for Hadacol


"You Are What You Eat": Nutrition nonsense by spielers and door-to-door salesmen: Adolphus Hohensee the main exhibit


"The Most Heartless": Cancer quackery, especially the protracted Harry Hoxsey case


Anti-Quackery, Inc.: A more cohesive effort to combat quackery, prompted by quackery's burgeoning


Turmoil on the Drug Scene: New frights, a new law, and new awareness of the need for better comprehension of the phenomenon of quackery


The Perennial Proneness: Reflections on the complex motivations that have made mankind so readily, susceptible to the quack's appeal.
  A Note on the Sources

This page was revised on November 15, 2006.

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