Published on October 9, 2023 by Sofia Paglioni  
Materia Medica Chest from Craig Kuechenmeister

McWhorter School of Pharmacy held a dedication for their newest addition in the Sandra and Phillip Crouch Pharmacy History Gallery on Monday, Oct. 9. The school received a Materia Medica Chest from Craig Kuechenmeister.

“I’m incredibly thankful to Mr. Kuechenmeister for this generous gift,” said Michael Crouch, Dean of McWhorter School of Pharmacy. “Very few complete sets of this chest exist, and those can be found in the Smithsonian Natural Museum of American History and Detroit Historical Society.”

The chest is made of oak wood and has a complete set, containing all 288 small, metal sample boxes of medicinal plant and herb specimens. A printed cardboard insert on the underside of the hinged top provides a numerical index to the various specimens. It was commissioned by Parke Davis and Co., Detroit & New York, U.S.A. The chest was presented as an academic excellence award to George Graf, who graduated from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy near the end of the 19th century.

After an internship, Graf worked as a research chemist with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in St. Louis, Missouri. The chest was donated in fond memory of George Graf by his grandson, Craig Kuechenmeister.

The chest has been in their family for 125 years and has been on display in Kuechenmeister’s house for over five decades. A completed Materia Medica Chest is extremely rare and it is believed that there are only five complete sets. Other chests reside in museums around the country.

When talking about his donation to McWhorter School of Pharmacy, Kuechenmeister said, “I am so glad it is here. I finally found a home for it.”  This chest is a celebration of pharmacy history and celebrates the origins of the profession. The chest will remain on display in McWhorter School of Pharmacy’s History Gallery for the entire Samford community to view.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.