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FDA Centennial History Photos

FDA Centennial Celebration Chicago Cultural Center,
Sponsored by the FDA's Chicago Regional Office and the
American Medical Association
May 31, 2006

Remarks by Timothy Harvey Wiley, grandson of Harvey Washington Wiley

Good morning, I am Timothy Harvey Wiley, one of Dr. Harvey Wiley's eight grandchildren, and this morning I would like to offer a few remarks and family stories to give you an idea of what kind of person the founder of the FDA was.

Dr Wiley was born in a log cabin on a farm in southern Indiana, close to the Ohio River, in 1844. He was descended from a branch of the Wileys that arrived in America in the 1760s and moved out early to the Western frontier. He was the sixth of 7 children, a big guy, 2 inches taller than me. I have more hair than he did at my age but he never had to wear glasses.

Life on a frontier farm in the 1840s was hard work. They had to grow or make everything they needed, but Dr. Wiley wrote that he particularly enjoyed helping his mother weaving cloth on the family loom from the wool they sheared from their sheep. There were no public schools as we know them but his father was also a teacher of a private school that met for a few months each year. Dr. Wiley learned Greek, Latin and German and his knowledge of language financed his later education as a doctor and chemist. Dr. Wiley's father was also a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves get through Indiana to Canada.

Dr. Wiley was 16 when the Civil War started and he and his father volunteered for the 137th Indiana regiment. He got sick and they sent him home before he saw any serious action. Disease stopped more soldiers than bullets during the Civil War.

After the war, he went to Hanover College near his home. He decided to become a doctor and went to the Indiana Medical College, where he supported himself by teaching Latin and Greek, and then on to Harvard and finally to Germany for post graduate work. He became a professor of chemistry at Purdue where his main interest was agricultural chemistry and where he is famous for starting the baseball program and being the first coach. He horrified the academics at Purdue by riding around the campus on a nickel-plated high wheel bicycle, the red hot gadget of the day, and shredding professorial dignity in the process.

He became chief chemist of the Agriculture Department in Washington where he also noticed a beautiful secretary, Anna Kelton, who he knew at first glance would become his wife. She was 25 and he was approaching 50 when he began to court her. She rejected him, saying he was too old. He carried a locket with her picture for 15 years, all during the events leading up to the founding of the FDA.

Fifteen years later, after the FDA was established, he asked her again and this time she said yes, she was close to 40 and Dr. Wiley was 65. He was 66 when he had his first son, Harvey, my Dad. And this at a time when the average person had a life expectancy of about 50 years. Two years later, Uncle John arrived. These two were the Pure Food babies--he wanted to show, by using his own children, what a pure and wholesome diet could do for good health. My Dad was the model for the sculpture of the perfect baby at the 1912 exposition in San Diego.

Dr. Wiley had the third automobile in Washington, D.C. He also admits to having one of the first accidents. His wife was powerhouse in her own right; she was very active in the suffragette movement and at one point was arrested for demonstrating for the right of women to vote.

Dr. Wiley was an editor at Good House keeping magazine for 17 years after leaving the FDA and was nationally known for efforts on behalf of consumers. He had a farm retreat in Virginia, in addition to his city house, where he escaped from life in Washington, roamed the fields with his boys and assorted dogs, and where he experimented with many things, including wind power. He died in 1930 when my Dad was 18 and Uncle John was 16.

In my mind, Dr Wiley was the quintessential American. He was not afraid of innovation and technological progress. Born on the frontier by firelight he finished his life counting men like Edison and Henry Ford as friends and having founded the great organization which we are celebrating today. As the 19th century ended he could see the many abuses that were going on in the food industry and the snake oil that was being peddled as medicine. He could have sat back and let somebody else worry about it but he had the moral courage to do something even though powerful forces, then as now, were not happy about what he did. But he succeeded.

I think Dr. Wiley would be happy with what the FDA has accomplished and has become in the last 100 years. The FDA is not perfect, and people will always complain about something, but as an outsider looking in at the FDA--I happen to be a structural engineer--I think people are pretty satisfied with the job the FDA is doing, unlike some other federal agencies I could mention, like the CIA or the NSA, for example.

Thank you for inviting me. I accept this lovely medal on behalf of the 7 surviving Wiley grandchildren and it will be passed down in the family as a treasured memento of our famous grandparent and the celebration of 100 years of service by the FDA.

Looking for Harvey Wiley

Reflections on Dr. Wiley's life by Stan Stringer

While visiting Madison, Indiana, my wife, her cousin and husband, and I visited Kent, Indiana, and Hanover College to see if anything remains that the good doctor would have known.

With some difficulty we found Kent. It is stated that Dr. Wiley was born in a "log farmhouse," but the house is long gone. While searching for directions, we found no one in the immediate Kent area who recognized the Wiley name, but one man directed me "go down the road a piece to a sign." As he said, "I read it once, but I don't remember who it was about." So it seems the residents of Kent do not remember their connection to Dr. Wiley.

Well, we found the sign, which was erected by the Association of Food and Drug Officials.

Photo with caption

The Wiley historical sign in Kent, Indiana

Harvey Washington Wiley, father of the U. S. Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, was born in Kent, Indiana, on October 30, 1844. Dr. Wiley's life is well-documented, but this odyssey was to find traces of his life in southern Indiana.

Our stop at Hanover College was a contrast to our stop in Kent. Hanover College proudly remembers Dr. Wiley. After serving the Union during the Civil War, Harvey Wiley attended the college and graduated in 1867.

Hanover College stands above the Ohio River. From the campus, one can see three states: Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.

River photo

When I visited the Alumni Office, I thought I might provoke some puzzlement when I stated, "I want to get some information on a past alum, one Harvey Wiley." Kirstie Kleopfer, who was handling inquiries that day, never missed a beat. She knew who I meant.

I told Kirstie that I was interested in photographing any buildings or other features that would have been contemporary to Dr. Wiley. Regrettably, I learned there were no longer any buildings dating to Dr. Wiley's years on campus. She kindly let me peruse several ancient yearbooks. As old as the books were, they still postdated Harvey Wiley's graduation by about thirty years. Nevertheless, I photographed several pages.

Photo with caption

The yearbook simply identified the large building on the left as "College Building." The foremost building on the right was identified as "Science Hall." Other buildings were not identified. The picture was taken after 1895.

I had hoped that this view of campus would have included something contemporary to Harvey Wiley, but that does not seem to be the case. The yearbook reports that Science Hall was erected in 1895, and years later burned. Sadly, there are no buildings on campus that Harvey Wiley would have known as an undergraduate. However, Kirstie put me onto a genuine Wiley era artifact. This was the "Gate."

Photo with caption

The "Gate" was a gift to the college from the class of 1849.

Until the steamboat's demise, Hanover's students arrived by horse, buggy, or steamboat. Steamboats docked below the bluff, and students walked from the landing up to the college and entered through the gate. The actual gate was removed long ago, but gateposts still stand.

Photo with caption Photo with caption

Base of left post.

Base of right post bottom line inscribed "Class of 1849."

Hanover College memorialized Harvey Wiley by affixing his name to Wiley Hall dormitory, and the library has collected a number of Wiley artifacts.

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Wiley Hall

Harvey Wiley graduated from Hanover College in 1867 with a degree in humanities. This degree was followed by an MD degree from Indiana Medical College in 1871 and a BS in chemistry at Harvard. In 1874, he accepted a teaching position at the newly opened Purdue University. In 1958, the Harvey W. Wiley Residence Hall at Purdue was named in his honor.

Photo with caption

In 1956, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring Dr. Harvey Wiley and the 50th anniversary of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Law. The stamp was issued June 27, 1956, in Washington, D.C. It was designed by Robert L. Miller, father of FDA/CFSAN chemist Lee J. Miller.

Prior to the 75th anniversary of the 1906 law, FDA's historian, Wallace Jansen, found the molds for a medal that was struck for the 50th anniversary of the law. At that time FDA employees were given an opportunity to purchase a recasting of the medal.

Front view of the Harvey Wiley medallion Back view of the Harvey Wiley medallion

The Harvey Wiley and Anna Kelton Wiley's grave stone

My search for Dr. Wiley concluded at Arlington Cemetery. Dr. Wiley and Mrs. Wiley rest at the side of Meigs Drive.

Dr. Wiley's Civil War service was with 137th Indiana Infantry. The regiment was organized in Indianapolis and mustered in on May 26, 1864. It was assigned to duty as railroad guard in Tennessee and Alabama until September 1864. It was mustered out on September 21, 1864. There were 17 deaths from disease and no battle deaths.

Postscript -- June 8, 2006

To my surprise I was wrong. My search for Dr. Wiley did not end in Arlington Cemetery.

On May 31st, FDA's Chicago Regional Office marked the centennial of the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906's enactment. By happen chance Dorothy and I had planned a trip to Chicago to see our grandchildren. My son works for FDA's Chicago Region. The timing was serendipitous, and we were invited to the FDA celebration.

Various FDA and local dignitaries attended the event and spoke about FDA's history, its present, and future. Notwithstanding the interest which these provoked, the highlight was the comments by a surprise speaker.

The speaker was Tim Wiley, one of Dr. Wiley's surviving grandchildren. His remarks related to the Wiley family and the personal and human side of Dr. Wiley. Andy Bonanno, Deputy Director of Chicago Regional Office and Chairman of the FDA Celebration Committee, presented Tim Wiley with several FDA mementos.

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Tim Wiley holding the Harvey Wiley medal and a set of reproduction FDA badges.


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