The Cohen-Fleisch Pharmacy Collection began in 1894, when Frank J. Ostrofsky, a well-known druggist of Hungarian descent, rented a former pharmacy in Bridgeport, CT.
1950: Jeanette (Bader) and Abraham David Cohen buy Ostrofsky Pharmacy
In 1950, Jeanette (Bader) (1917-2023) and Abraham David Cohen (1910-1979) bought Ostrofsky Pharmacy and its original equipment dating from the early 1900s. Abraham, born in New Haven, CT to immigrant parents, was part of the first class to graduate in 1930 from the Connecticut College of Pharmacy located in New Haven. This College became the UConn School of Pharmacy, and moved to Storrs, CT. He and Jeanette had two daughters, Sandra and Marlene, who both attended the UConn School of Pharmacy, like many other Cohen family members.
Cohen family have unique pharmaceutical careers
Sandra Cohen Fagan ’62 (PHR) had a long pharmaceutical career. After working in Ostrofsky Pharmacy, she spent 14 years as a drug control agent for the State of Connecticut. She passed away in 1994, survived by her husband, Arnold Fagan ’58 (PHR), also a pharmacist, who previously owned a pharmacy in Bridgeport.
Marlene L. Cohen ’68 (PHR) married Jerome H. Fleisch, RPh, Ph.D., also a pharmacist, who graduated from Columbia University, College of Pharmacy in 1963. After completing her pharmacy internship at Yale New Haven Hospital, Marlene received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from The University of California Medical Center in San Francisco (UCSF, 1969-1973) and completed postdoctoral research at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in Nutley, New Jersey (1973-1975). Jerome completed his Ph.D. at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (1967) followed by a postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard Medical School in Pharmacology (1968), and then joined the United States Public Health Services in Washington, D.C. and ultimately became a staff member of the National Institutes of Health.
In 1974, Jerome joined the Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Marlene was recruited to the Lilly Research Laboratories in 1975. Jerome was Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Chicago and Marlene was an Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology at Indiana University where they each gave lectures to the Medical students. They married in 1976 and rose through the research ranks at Eli Lilly to Distinguished Lilly Research Fellows. Jerome led the Pulmonary Research group in the Lilly Research Labs and is the author of multiple publications. Marlene is the co-author of over 200 peer-reviewed publications, 14 book chapters, and the co-inventor on over 25 patents. In 2002, she served as President of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, a 4,000 member national society. Marlene and Jerome have two daughters, Abby F. Fleisch, MD and Sheryl B. Fleisch, MD. Marlene and Jerome retired from Eli Lilly and Company in 2002.
1960s-1970s: Ostrofsky Pharmacy gets remodeled and sold
Ostrofsky Pharmacy was remodeled (the soda fountain and stools were removed) and modernized by Jeanette and Abraham in the 1960s and was sold in the 1970s. This “mom and pop” pharmacy was the focus of life for Abraham, Jeanette, and their daughters throughout their lives. Many of the pharmacy antiquities from the early 1900s that remained in the pharmacy were moved to their home in Trumbull, Connecticut with the goal of preserving and displaying this rich heritage.
2019: The Cohen-Fleisch Pharmacy Collection comes to UConn Health Sciences Library
In 2019, Marlene and Jerome generously donated the extensive pharmacy collection to the UConn Health Sciences Library and established The Cohen-Fleisch Pharmacy Collection Fund.
UConn Health is honored to house this historical collection and recognize the Cohen-Fleisch family for their collective contributions to the profession of pharmacy spanning eight decades.
What’s in the collection?
The collection includes original globes that, when filled with red water, were a traditional identifier of a pharmacy. These globes, filled with red liquid, hung in the store on either side of the windows so they could be seen outside. In the library, these have been hung above the display attached with all the original brass fixtures, which are over 100 years old.
Also on display are standard items for a pharmacy of that era, including:
- a porcelain leech jar
- scales for many different uses, e.g. medicines, baby weighing, candy weighing
- weights for the scales
- mortar and pestles, some decorative and others used in compounding medicines
- brass/wooden pill makers and plastic push pill makers
- a cash register
- many medicinal glass jars with ceramic gold leaf labels
- porcelain containers for powder and liquid storage
- a large porcelain mixer for batch medicine production
- cobalt blue gold-leaf labeled heroin jar and smaller amber Ma Huang jar (ephedrine) used when these medicines were sold without regulation
The soda fountain also provided several items, including:
- Bromo Seltzer and Alka Seltzer dispensers
- Root beer dispenser
- Hot chocolate dispenser
- Stamp machine (5 and 10 cents)
In addition to the unique labels on the artifacts, there are books containing early 19th-century labels specific to remedies developed by Ostrofsky Pharmacy. The labels for migraines, insomnia, and other illnesses were a signpost in healthcare and treatments of that era.
See the collection
These items offer an entertaining and revealing window into the history of the pharmacy profession and we encourage visitors to see the collection at the UConn Health Sciences Library.