Robert L. Day Collection: Anatomy of an Archival Project – Part 1

Robert L. Day

Robert Day as a student, in a UCSF School of Pharmacy lab, 1957. Robert L. Day Collection, MSS 2011-23.

We were fortunate this past spring to benefit from the generosity of Dr. Robert Day and the expertise of the Library’s Archives and Special Collections. Dr. Day retired in 2012 from the UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty after an accomplished 50+-year academic career at UCSF. He retired as well from his unofficial position as the School’s historian. He was a magnet for all things old and wonderful related to the School and pharmacy in general.  His office was a floor-to-ceiling treasure trove, the precious contents of which he generously donated to UCSF upon his retirement. The new Robert L. Day Collection is complete with the 1906-1910 School of Pharmacy faculty meeting minutes; glorious show globes, the predecessors of which were used originally to mark the physical location of a pharmacy; a 1930 prescription for one pint of whiskey (undiluted); photos of our bell-bottomed and side-burned faculty members in the 60’s; and priceless detailed documents showing the transformation here at UCSF of pharmacy into a clinical profession.  Coming soon is Dr. Day’s oral history, a must read. Just as impressive as the items in the collection was the skilled and focused work of the archive professionals in the Library. Under the direction of UCSF Archivist Polina Ilieva, the boxes and boxes of precious items from Dr. Day’s office were collected, preserved, digitized, and catalogued into a findable resource that is now accessible worldwide. I encourage anyone who might have archival documents or special collections of health- or science-related items to contact the Library. In the meantime, enjoy the Robert L. Day Collection.

Susan Levings, MS
Associate Dean, Planning and Communications
UCSF School of Pharmacy

Robert L. Day Collection: Anatomy of an Archival Project – Introduction

California College Of Pharmacy

Group of pharmacy students from the class of 1889 posing in front of California College of Pharmacy building at 113 Fulton Street, San Francisco. Otto A. Weihe (later Instructor of Materia Medica at the College) is standing 2nd from left. Robert L. Day Collection, MSS 2011-23.

In April of 2013 the UCSF Archives unveiled recently acquired Robert L. Day collection documenting the history of the School of Pharmacy. This project included not only arrangement and processing of the collection, but also preservation and restoration of damaged oversized photographs, digitization, design and creation of a companion digital portal, physical and online exhibits, oral history and organization of events to showcase the history of the School. It was successfully accomplished as a result of the close cooperation between the School’s leadership and the Library. With the approval and continuing personal involvement of the dean, B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD., the School of Pharmacy provided generous support and funded the hiring of a part-time processing archivist for a period of six months, digitization of brittle scrapbooks and photographs, work of a photo conservator, and an oral historian.

In the next couple of weeks we will bring to your attention entries written by the participants of this project…

“Pharmacy and Pharmacists:” Japanese Woodblock Print Exhibit at the Library

In January of 2013 the Archives staff installed a new exhibit titled “Pharmacy and Pharmacists” in the first floor gallery of the Library that will be on display through the end of the year.

This exhibit presents a selection of Japanese prints portraying traditional drug compounding and distribution establishments. Numerous advertisements for drug stores carefully depict pre-modern shops which were open to the street and had several signs promoting proprietary medicine and other store specialties. On many prints the physician (identifiable by his bald head) can be seen consulting with the pharmacists. Around the store, assistants and apprentices are preparing herbal drugs by grinding and powdering medicinal plants, dispensing drugs to customers and delivering new shipments of herbs. Some streets in Tokyo and other cities had rows of wholesale and retail drug emporia boldly advertising their traditional and Western-style products. The artists also show people from different walks of life in the street scenes where drugstores serve as a backdrop for everyday activities, with two prints depicting views of Mt. Fuji.


Yagi Hall (Yagidō), 1884
Artist: Matsukawa Hanzan (Japanese, 1818-1882)
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
37.7 x 25.5 cm
Object ID: ucsf_p279
A Japanese print with Chinese writing depicting a large drug wholesale business in Osaka by the name of “Yagido.” The business specializes in imported traditional Chinese medicine and seems to be appealing to preferred customers via this advertisement.
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