Aims & Scope

According to the statutes, the International Society for the History of Pharmacy (ISHP), which was established in 1926, is an International Centre for handling all matters of a pharmaceutical historical nature without commercial interests. It endeavours to reach its goal by promoting research in writing and teaching the history of pharmacy as well as disseminating  knowledge and obtaining recognition for this discipline. Its institutions serve thispurpose.

A main focus of the societies work lies in organising an International Congress every two years. The last one took place in Warsaw, Poland and will be followed by a meeting in Washington, USA, in 2019. These congresses will continue to be an open platform for research presentations and also discussions about history of pharmacy in an truly international context. Additionally, internationally based research projects may be initiated and supported.

History always is close related to local circumstances and things developed different from country to country and from culture to culture. Therefore, many historical studies have to be done in a national context. However, there are questions and historical problems which can only be discussed on an international basis to achieve results valid for the whole world. Efforts of ISHP will concentrate on identifying those problems and stimulating discussion about them from a truly international point of view. Therefore, it seems very important for ISHP to cover national societies from all over the world and representing all different cultures to come to valid results.

The results of a first survey of ISHP among its members shows that in many countries history of pharmacy is underrepresented in university curricula. In many countries, history is tought only on a voluntary basis and there are lots of schools of pharmacy in the world not even offering any lecture in the field. Some universities are happy to include historical sketches as introductions to general university courses, e.g. in the field of social pharmacy. Where history of pharmacy is a part of the curriculum, it mainly depends on one or a few enthusiastic persons to continue historical education. Their work is even more important where history lectures should be added to the universities curriculum. ISHP tries to encourage potential teachers and form a world wide lobby aiming at a at least a voluntary course at every school of pharmacy in the world. It may also be worth to share teaching experiences on an international basis.

History of pharmacy in even more underrepresented in academic research. Thus, it is a challenge to make the historians heard in the field of pharmaceutical research. This can be done by symposia and lectures organised in close relationship to international science events. From this point of view, ISHP is very happy to organise historical symposia in connection with the annual F.I.P. congress. It may also be helpful to submit historical research papers to journals with international reputation in science to achieve some kind of visibility in the scientific community. History should be more and more recognised as a necessary and useful basis for current research.

Thus, the recently restructured International Society for the History of Pharmacy faces a lot of challenges. At the beginning of the 21st century with its “global community” an international approach could also be useful for the progress in pharmaceutical history.