Nineteenth century attitudes

What to wear?

The issues surrounding female pharmacists have provoked strong reactions from both men and women, from the 1870s until the present day. Here are some insights from the 1800s.

"I could not bear to see their hands as soft as alabaster
Begrimed all o'er with dirty pill and nasty smelling plaster
Oh! May I never see them with their chignons in confusion
Attempt to shake the tinctures or prepare the cold infusion.
How could they climb the shaky steps to clean the bottles dusty,
Or go below amongst the wets into the cellar musty?
Their sleek round arms were never made to work the iron mortar,
But some opine they might assist to cut the salary shorter."

The Pharmaceutical Journal
1 March 1873


"what I wish to impress upon those who are interested in the subject is the extreme folly of taking away any remaining barriers to the entry of a profession for which ladies are by their sex eminently disqualified... There is a considerable amount of drudgery connected with it [the profession], which must be repugnant to ladies, and which I should seriously be disposed to think their constitution would not be adapted to endure... there are many cases brought to the notice of an ordinary chemist which would be exceedingly undesirable to bring her in contact with..."

Charles Fryer of Scarborough writing to The Pharmaceutical Journal
17 November 1877


"A "Royal charter" you've obtained, and published certain rules
But none of these, I think, excludes the Women from our schools.
If they obey the law laid down, we cannot keep them out,
And, O! they're wide awake enough to know what they're about..."

"A Valentine to the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society"
The Pharmaceutical Journal, 22 February 1873


"It was part of the executive duty of the Council to elect all eligible persons, irrespective of their sex. It would be as reasonable to ask what church they attended as to inquire as to the sex of eligible persons who applied for admission [to the Society's membership], and he hoped the matter would now be settled..."

Robert Hampson's contribution to Council Meeting of 1 October 1879, as reported in The Pharmaceutical Journal, 4 October 1879