Soderlund Drug Store Museum


Kathleen joins us again this Friday for an interesting piece on her trip to Soderlund Pharmacy Museum.
 A Charming Historical and Visual Resource for Writers
Writing about a character who’d been a pharmacist in 1901 small town America presented a challenge and sent me searching. After all, this gentleman was practicing his craft prior to the passing of the Pure Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1907 and national legalized standards for the profession.
I happily stumbled upon the William and Joan Soderland Pharmacy Museum web site. The colorful photographs of show globes intrigued me. Just what are show globes? These were beautifully crafted glass jars filled with colored liquid. While legends abound as to their origin, including the use of red liquid to signify an epidemic in town or green to signal the all clear, the likely story is much simpler. Chemists, later called pharmacists, made many of their medical preparations from herbs. Since the historical pharmacist didn’t need a formal education or a license to practice until the 20th century, they demonstrated their prowess in making chemical compounds through the show globes, sometimes layering different density and color liquids for a striped effect.
There are several pages at the Soderlund Drug Store Museum web site, containing a plethora of trivia and useful information regarding the history of the American drug store and pharmaceutical companies prior to 1958. Colorful and historical photographs also abound.
I had the privilege of visiting the Soderlund Pharmacy Museum in quaint St. Peter, Minnesota last summer. Along most of the back wall stand cabinets filled with bottles, jars and boxes that once held patent medicines and individual ingredients, which are often herbs that you would recognize in any health food store today. It would take hours to study the many labels of the lotions and potions contained behind the glass. These donated items span decades of the apothecary’s trade and include key ingredients, as well as once popular patent preparations such as Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound and Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription Tablets.
A 1920’s style soda fountain in the corner supplies complimentary glasses of locally brewed root beer, a refreshing treat on a hot summer day! A visit to the drugstore museum, housed within Soderlund Village Drug, returns visitors to the ambience of the typical Main Street pharmacy of yesteryear.
While it may not be possible for you to visit in person, their web site is worth your time, providing not only different aspects of history of the American drug store and pharmaceutical industry, but also many visuals that can be helpful for the writer. So pour yourself a glass of root beer, get cozy in your most comfortable chair and prepare for a journey back in time at
Kathleen lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of 29 years. First, a wife and mother, she is “retired” after 20 years of home educating their three sons, who are all grown and have moved away.  
Since then, Kathleen returned to Oakland Community College to complete a Liberal Arts degree and a certificate of achievement in ophthalmic assisting. Last year the American Board of Opticianry certified her.
Kathleen has been published in Home School Digest and An Encouraging Word magazines. She writes regularly for the local women’s ministry “Sisters” newsletter. She also contributes articles and author interviews to, a blog devoted mostly to historical fiction. Read about her fiction writing endeavors at:

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