Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Science History Institute Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Founded in 1849 by German cousins Charles Pfizer and Charles F. Erhart, Pfizer Inc. is an American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company. Pfizer Inc. established itself as a producer of chemical compounds during the late 19th century, most notably including the production of citric acid that contributed to the company's growth in the 1880s. By 1906, sales at the company exceeded $3 million dollars.
In 1919, Pfizer Inc. discovered a fungus that was able to ferment sugar to citric acid. This discovery was then used to address a shortage of calcium citrate, a compound used in the production of citric acid, caused by World War I. The company was then able to commercialize production of citric acid through their fermentation technology, an innovation that also allowed for the mass production of penicillin to treat wounded Allied soldiers during World War II.
After prices for penicillin began to decline after World War II, Pfizer Inc. began to expand their operations into pharmaceutical research. Hoping to develop new antibiotics with greater profit potentials, the company went on to discover the antibiotic oxytetracycline in 1950. Following this discovery, the company officially transitioned from being a fine chemical manufacturer to becoming a research-based pharmaceutical company. Pfizer Inc. then expanded its influence on a global scale, with new offices and headquarters established around the world.
Throughout the 20th century, Pfizer Inc. developed a wide number of lucrative antibiotics and medicines. Starting with the anti-inflammatory medication Feldene (Piroxicam) in 1980, which was the first product developed by the company to reach $1 billion in revenue, the company went on to develop several other well-known pharmaceuticals including Viagra (1989), Zoloft (1991), and Lipitor (1997). Throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the company has continued to grow and expand its reach and influence through multiple acquisitions and expansions. Pfizer Inc. was also a prominent contributor in the development of vaccines and medicines used in the prevention and treatment of global infections during the COVID-19 pandemic starting in March 2020. In response to the pandemic, the company developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in 2020 and Paxlovid in 2022.
Pfizer Inc. Collection, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Pfizer Inc. Collection contains the records of Pfizer Inc. The collection is arranged into the following four series:
- Correspondence Files
- Administrative Files
- Speeches, Papers, and Presentations Files
- Miscellaneous Files
The Pfizer Inc. Collection was found in the collection of the Science History Institute.
The Pfizer Inc. Collection was processed by Sean Cureton in March 2023.
- Science History Institute Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid created and encoded into EAD by Sean Cureton.
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.
- Use Restrictions
The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Pfizer Inc. Collection. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.
This series contains various letters and messages of correspondence concerning Pfizer Inc. as a company. Arranged alphabetically by title, this series contains materials pertaining to professional and administrative activities and planning.
The contents of the Correspondence Files vary widely when it comes to subject and author. Included in this series is a single letter of correspondence to former company president Emile Pfizer referring to four lists of current employees at the company, messages regarding company taxes and profits, and a letter summarizing a series of Board of Directors Meetings from 1945.
This series contains various materials concerning the administration and management of Pfizer Inc. as a company. Arranged alphabetically by title, this series contains documents detailing employee records, compensation statistics, and stockholders.
The contents of the Administrative Files are largely uniform in terms of both subject and origin. Included in this series are several personnel lists of Pfizer Inc. employees, lists of company stockholders, and compensation charts detailing financial percentages.
This series contains various speeches, papers, and presentations produced and delivered on the behalf of Pfizer Inc. as a company. Arranged alphabetically by title, this series contains documents pertaining to company speeches, history, and policies.
The contents of the Speeches, Papers, and Presentations Files cover subjects and topics which affected Pfizer Inc. throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Included in this series are company by-laws, corporate histories, and speeches.
This series contains miscellaneous materials that reflect the reach and influence of Pfizer Inc. over much of the twentieth century. Arranged alphabetically by subject, the Miscellaneous Files cover a wide range of subjects related to the history of Pfizer Inc. as a company.
The contents of the Miscellaneous Files consist of magazine articles, pamphlets, legal documents, brochures, and programs. Included in this series is the last will and testament of former company president Emile Pfizer.