Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Rufus A. Lyman: Pharmacy's Lamplighter

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Rufus A. Lyman: Pharmacy's Lamplighter

Article excerpt

Early Life

Lyman was born in 1875 in Table Rock, a small spot in Pawnee County, Nebraska. Lyman stated that his family was religious; his mother came from a long line of Presbyterian ministers. (2) His later leanings towards religion and politics were undoubtedly instilled by his mother, "an ardent republican and strong abolitionist." (3)

Lyman related that at an early age his parents decided that he "might be a failure as a farmer, but might have possibilities as a country doctor." (4) He never explained the basis for their decision. In fact, Lyman was never able to help with the heavy farm labor because he was injured as a baby and did not begin walking until he was 3 years old. It was later discovered that he had several fused vertebrae and wore a heavy brace intermittently for the rest of his life. (5)

Rufus Lyman never had any formal links to pharmacy practice. Years later, the renowned historian George Urdang and personal friend of Lyman, commented that Lyman had "enjoyed himself in the drugstore of a maternal uncle in Table Rock, who owned the store besides being a physician" (6) No supporting evidence of this relationship has been located to date. In a short biographical sketch, Lyman's sister-in-law, an early graduate and faculty member of the college of pharmacy, noted that "he was proprietor of a drug store for 4 years" but no supporting evidence of this claim has been found. (7)

While the decision to become a doctor was formed early, the preparation to get there was not easy. Forgoing apprenticeship, Lyman entered the University of Nebraska as an undergraduate, receiving his bachelor of arts degree in 1897. He earned a master of science degree in parasitology in 1899, studying under Henry B. Ward who would later become the dean of the College of Medicine. Lyman taught physiology at Lincoln High School during his master's studies. (6) After graduation he married Carrie Day, a Nebraska graduate of 1898. (7) The young couple moved to Nebraska City for a year to teach at the School for the Blind, and then moved to Omaha where Lyman entered the Omaha Medical College. Lyman spent one summer as a replacement physician in a Wyoming coal mine; worked as a lamplighter for the city of Omaha, and during his final year, was a lecturer in physiology at the College of Medicine. After his 1903 graduation, Lyman practiced medicine in Omaha. His primary occupation, however, was as instructor of physiology and histology at the College of Medicine. He moved to Lincoln when the basic science component of the college was moved to the university campus, and in 1905, became the professor of pharmacodynamics, which was later called pharmacology.

Beginnings of the School of Pharmacy

Lyman recalled that University Chancellor E. Benjamin Andrews proposed the formation of a school of pharmacy within the College of Medicine. (3) Robert Manley, University of Nebraska centennial historian, wrote that it was Lyman himself who pressed for the formation of the school. (8) Lyman, however, claimed that he was "shanghaied" into the role when no pharmacist with the necessary qualifications could be found. (9) The new school was approved by the Board of Regents on April 23,1908. Lyman noted that the dean of the College of Medicine was a supporter while most faculty members and pharmacists were indifferent. (3) Only 4 practitioners were active supporters; there were 900 drugstores in Nebraska at the time. (10) This lack of enthusiasm likely was due more to the perceived role of the university than to pharmacy education itself since the Schools of Pharmacy at Creighton and Fremont were already in operation.

Whether Lyman was the instigator of the new school or shanghaied, he was named its first director while maintaining his titles as professor of pharmacology and director of the pharmacy and pharmacology laboratories. Lyman lost no time in integrating the new school into the state and national pharmacy community. …

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