The Department of the History of Science and Pharmacy was founded as the Department of the History of Pharmacy by Wolfgang Schneider in 1958. Schneider was a pharmaceutical chemist and worked as an assistant at the pharmaceutical institute in Braunschweig since 1948, until his habilitation in 1954. In 1960 he was appointed associate professor. His research projects dealt with the history of pharmaceuticals, among which he was especially interested in the production of pharmaceuticals during the early modern period, which he also reconstructed in a special laboratory. By using methods of analytical chemistry he determined the composition of old pharmaceuticals according to old recipes. This long-term, patient translation work, to which several postgraduate students participated, took place decades before the "experimental turn" of the 1980s. Alongside the expertise in the medicinal products of iatrochemistry, Schneider acquired an overview of the changes in the European Materia Medica by researching the presence of preparations and groups of preparations in pharmacopoeia between the 16th and 19th century. The results of this work were published in his seven-volume encyclopaedia on the history of pharmaceuticals (1968-1975). The volume that deals with mineral and chemical pharmaceuticals gives a particular insight into this part of the Materia Medica. On the one hand, the pharmaceuticals are arranged by period, while on the other hand by composition and production technique. Synonyms in the articles, as well as an index, enable conclusions on the probable composition of pharmaceutical preparations, based on historical terminology.
His legacy consists, on the one hand, of his comprehensive collection of sources (today partly in the library of the Department of the History of Science and Pharmacy) and, on the other hand, of the "Schneider collection", consisting of more than 1000 objects on the topic of the history of pharmaceuticals, which constituted the material basis for his publications on the history of pharmaceuticals.
Schneider also developed a facsimile reprint of the first German pharmacopoeia by doing comprehensive research. Moreover, he published scholarly works on Paracelsus, alchemy and iatrochemistry. His "Geschichte der Pharmazeutischen Chemie" (History of Pharmaceutical Chemistry) treated alchemy as a step towards modern chemistry. In spite of the peculiar quotations, it is still a useful source of information for the development of this special discipline.
In 1977 Wolfgang Schneider was given emeritus status, although he continued to research and publish.
After finishing her training as a pharmacist, Erika Hickel completed her Ph.D. under Wolfgang Schneider in 1963 with a thesis on the history of pharmacy. She habilitated in 1971 and became his successor in 1978. Her early works were based on the methods of Schneider's history of pharmaceuticals, but soon she found her own way. She published a number of books on chemistry and pharmacy of the Early Modern period and she also included more social and cultural aspects in her works. Her book "Arzneimittel-Standardisierung im 19. Jahrhundert in den Pharmakopöen Deutschlands, Frankreichs, Großbritanniens und der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika" (The Standardisation of Pharmaceuticals During the 19th Century in the Pharmacopoeia of Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America) (1973) sought to examine how the social phenomenon of 'regulation' matches with the scientific phenomenon of 'standardisation'. As in later works, she demonstrated here that the hopes and promises of modern sciences went beyond what they could achieve at the time.
In 1983 she became a member of parliament with the party "Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen". In 1990, she became the first female vice president. She was critically analysing genetic engineering and connected this work with criticism on the "Zurichtung von Mensch und Natur" (modification of and domination over humans and nature) - the subtitle of one of her publications. She also initiated research on on "Frauen und Naturwissenschaftem. Gesammelte Vorträge zur feministischen Wissenschaftskritik" (Women and the Sciences. Collected Papers on Feminist Critique of Scientific Questions), according to another book title. In 1996, she left the Technical University of Braunschweig to write her book "Die Arzneimittel in der Geschichte. Trost und Täuschung - Heil und Handelsware" (Pharmaceuticals in History. Consolation and Deception - Salvation and Commodity) (2008). By alluding to J.D. Bernal's "Science in History" she renewed again her commitment to a socially engaged, historico-cultural and historico-social history of pharmaceuticals. What is more, she aims for a history of science based on scientific methods, which she understands as a part of social (and cultural) practice. By appointing teaching a temporary lectureship on social pharmacy, she tried to convey to prospective pharmacists that the administration of pharmaceuticals is also part of a social context, to which pharmacists should hold themselves accountable. She extended the library of the Department of the History of Science and Pharmacy in the direction of the social history of sciences. The topic "technology assessment" is also part of the inventories she extended through generous gifts from her private library. Additionally, she managed a large collection of offprints, which is at the moment being digitized.
Bettina Wahrig studied psychology, medicine and philosophy in Mainz and Marburg and attained the Final State Examination in medicine. In 1984, she completed her Ph.D. with a dissertation on the history of psychiatry. From 1985 to 1997 she was active in the Department of the History of Medicine and Science in Lübeck, where she completed her habilitation thesis., carrying out work on the imagery of state, science and the organism in Thomas Hobbes' works. In 1997, she was appointed professor by Braunschweig, University of Technology. She added her own interest interest in gender research and the history of experimental physiology and toxicology to the spectrum of the department's research topics.
Between 1997 and 2003, her research emphasis was on the relationships between knowledge, power and gender in the health professions, particularly pharmacists, doctors and midwives, in the wide and professional public. Since 2003, her emphasis has been on the history of poison and poisoning, in which the relationship between knowledge, power and gender remains in the background. Her further research projects focus on gender and pharmaceuticals, gender research, life sciences and metaphorology.
Her research methods originate from text research (discourse analysis, metaphorology), research on the history of experimentation and gender research.
Bettina Wahrig teaches courses on medical and pharmaceutical terminology, the history of sciences and pharmacy, pharmaceutical law. She leads elective courses within her research portfolio for students of pharmacy. Moreover, the department offers numerous self-contained seminars (held by lecturers, private lecturers or by Bettina Wahrig) in which students can participate within the scope of bachelor courses of Faculty 6, the "Pool Modell" (interdisciplinary courses of all faculties) or the course "Culture of the Techno-scientific World" (KTW). Persons who hold a degree in pharmacy or science can follow these seminars in order to qualify for working on a doctoral thesis in history of science and pharmacy.
Collaborations exist between the Department and the Centre for Gender Studies, the History Department of the Technical University of Braunschweig, the Institute for Media Research of the Braunschweig University of Arts (HBK), the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.