Museum of Vision

Dedicated to preserving ophthalmic history

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Sectional Navigation

  1. Selections from the Sherman Collection
  2. History of Ophthalmology in the Asia Pacific
  3. Their Eyes to the Sky
  4. Great Insights and Great Thinkers in Ophthalmology
  5. Beyond Ophthalmology, Beyond the Clinic
  6. Extreme Vision: Science Fiction or Truth
  7. Contagion! Epidemics in Ophthalmic History
  8. The Eyes of War
  9. Spectacular Spectacles
  10. To Fool the Eye
  11. Windows to the Soul
  12. Picturing The Eye: Ophthalmic Film and Photography
  13. Collecting Ophthalmology: 30 Years at the Museum

Quackery's Demise

Collier's Weekly
Collier's Weekly, courtesy of Walter H. Marshall, MD

Self regulation of the medical profession, a public awareness campaign and new laws passed by the Federal government all helped to change the tide against quackery.

In 1846, the American Medical Association was founded in order to adopt national standards of medical education and ethics.  This coincided with a push for states to issue medical licenses and prosecute quacks.  By the 1900s, medical specialty societies, such as our own American Academy of Ophthalmology, were helping the cause by advancing medical education for both students and practitioners.

Spurring on legislators was Colliers' Weekly magazine.  It ran a series of articles called "The Great American Fraud", which exposed the many products and people who were involved in the quack medical trade.  The American Medical Association then reprinted these articles as part of a public awareness campaign and distributed them throughout the early 1900s.

In response to the AMA and public pressure, Congress passed the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act.  This legislation required all products containing alcohol, morphine, opium, cocaine and heroin, among other drugs, to be properly labeled.  The social movement that brought about the passage of this law eventually paved the way for the creation of the Food and Drug Administration, making it finally possible to prosecute both companies and individuals. 



  1. Nostrums and Patent Medicines
  2. Patent Medicine and the American Civil War
  3. To Strengthen the Eyes
  4. Sight Restorers
  5. Electrotherapy
  6. Violet Ray Machines
  7. Color Therapy
  8. Quackery's Demise

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