John L. Davis medicinal formulae and household recipes

Biographical and Historical Notes

John L. Davis, a chemist at the Powers and Weightman Chemical Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the mid to late nineteenth century.


Information derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

Philadelphia chemist John Davis’s manuscript book is filled with medicinal formulae and numerous laid-in receipts and household hints. There are over 135 items as varied as medicinal receipts, graduation announcements, poetry, sketches, and a silhouette.

This nineteenth century manuscript book of medicinal formulae belonged to John L. Davis, a chemist at the Powers and Weightman Chemical Company in Philadelphia. The book is lacking its covers and contains 238 lined pages of which about ninety feature tipped-in receipts and newspaper clippings of advertisements. More than 135 loose items, such as clippings, sketches, and other ephemera have been removed from the volume and housed with the collection in a separate folder.

The incomplete un-bound book begins with an index starting with the letter "E." The volume contains medicinal formulae, household recipes, and beauty hints. Receipts include instructions for ginger beer, bug poison, hope’s dysentery mixture, black ink, cologne, hair dye, spiced brandy, and cholera mixture. The separated clippings and ephemera vary in topic and are often dated. These include poems, medicinal receipts from doctors' offices, sketches, a silhouette, and graduation announcements. A letter dated 1896 is addressed to "John L. Davis, c/o Powers & Weightman, 9th & Parrish Sts., Philadelphia."