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  1. FDA History Exhibits

The FDA History Vault

Welcome to the FDA’s history vault, containing more than 10,000 items from FDA’s history. Among the artifacts are tools used by those who carry out the agency’s mission, which highlights advances in science and technology, and many of the deceptive and dangerous foods, medicines, and so-called medical products that FDA has helped remove from commerce and that have led to important changes in laws and regulations.  In the videos below you can learn about the FDA’s past by exploring the wonders of the agency’s artifact collection.

History Vault









A Calculating History

How do regulatory scientists measure their work?  What tools do they use?  This episode explores historical objects, such as the Thatcher Calculator, that helped scientists quantify their research results.






Trying Times

Throughout the FDA’s history, the agency’s inspectors and investigators have used a great variety of tools to examine -- or “try” – samples of regulated products to screen for adulteration.  Learn about these fascinating instruments in “Trying Times.”






It's Not Easy Being Green

Twenty years ago, the FDA was invaded by a hideous creature that today is one of the most unforgettable and endearing artifacts in the FDA History vault. Today’s episode, It's Not Easy Being Green.






A Shocking ExerciZe

This week’s episode tells the story of FDA’s long efforts to interdict/regulate/protect the public from an increasing number of deceptive and dangerous medical devices, highlighting the notorious passive exercise contraption called the Relax-a-cizor.






Radiating Shoe Sales

For several decades in the mid-20th century, shoes stores commonly featured X-ray machines that enabled users to visualize how their feet fit inside a pair of shoes.  While they were well-loved by patrons, these machines emitted dangerous levels of radiation!





Ironed Out

In today’s episode we hear a tale from FDA’s History Vault involving one unscrupulous businessman who sought to profit by promoting phony cures using iron tablets.





The American Chamber of Horrors

Look if you dare at the American Chamber of Horrors, an exhibit from the early 20th century showcasing the many fraudulent, deceptive, and dangerous foods, drugs, devices, and cosmetics and leading to the creation of a new law, the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, to protect consumers.



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