Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Benjamin Franklin Riter was born in Salt Lake City on 31 August 1859.1 His parents had traveled to Utah in 1847 as part of the Latter-day Saint migration.2 He worked with doctors and druggists in his youth, and grew up to be the manager of a small chain of drug stores. The Riter Brothers Drug Company was incorporated in Logan in 1891 and remained in business at least until 1918. The pharmacy operated five stores: two in Utah, at Garland and Logan, and three in Idaho, at Preston, Montpelier, and Franklin. They kept prescription records, which were pasted into four large ledgers, and are now held in Utah State University’s Special Collections and Archives. The available ledgers cover 1903-1904, 1905-1907, 1913-1914, and 1915-1918.3 This was a family business. Benjamin Franklin Riter was the manager, his brother William Wollerton Riter was the president, and another brother, Samuel Wollerton Riter, was the secretary and treasurer.
Most of the prescriptions included in the Riter Brothers’ ledgers are handwritten on the company's own stationary, blue papers about the size of three-by-five cards. The recipe, dosage, and instructions for taking the medication were handwritten on the papers, and the papers were signed by the prescribing physician. Pharmacists then initialed the papers and stamped them with a five-digit consecutive order number. Dates were sometimes stamped onto the prescription note. The patient’s name was not usually recorded, though other pharmacies, such as Logan’s “Co-Operative Grocery and Drug Company” included a field for the patient’s name on their prescription slips. The handwriting is not easy to read, and the task is made harder if one is not familiar with contemporary terms for local pharmaceutical ingredients. However, the records are rich and offer multiple possibilities for analysis.
Keller, Ian, "The Historical and Familial Context of Benjamin Franklin Riter, 1859-1925" (2017). All Graduate Plan B and other Reports. 1144.
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