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Dr. Sidney Stohs Mortar and Pestle Collection

The Collection

Left to right: Red rock mortar and pestle (c. 1400); granite mortar and pestle (c. 1970); brass bucket mortar with dolphin handles and pestle (c. 1960); iron bucket mortar with Bowl of Hygieia symbol with pestle (c. 1920); wood, hand-carved mortar with pestle (c. 1920

The Dr. Sidney Stohs Mortar and Pestle Collection contains almost 200 mortars and pestles from North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa made of various metals, stones, glass, ceramics, wood, and other materials. The collection spans from the 15th to the 21st century. The oldest piece is a 15th-century stone mortar and pestle set from the Anasazi civilization in the southwest United States (first on the left). The Bowl of Hygieia is a prominent symbol of pharmaceutical sciences, and is depicted on the iron mortar above (fourth from the left).

The collection is displayed on the upper level of the Health Sciences Library at Creighton University and is available for public viewing. It is also available in an online format on the Creighton Digital Repository, linked below.


Dr. Sidney Stohs

Dr. Sidney Stohs received a B.S. in Pharmacy in 1962 and an M.S. in Pharmacognosy in 1964 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967.

Dr. Stohs served as a professor, department chair, and assistant dean at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (Omaha) College of Pharmacy from 1967 to 1989. In 1989, he became a professor at Creighton University's School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, and was appointed Dean in 1991, a position he held until 2003. In 2000, he became the first holder of the Gilbert F. Taffe, Jr., Endowed Chair in the School of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions. When he retired in 2003, he was named Dean Emeritus. He is responsible for two scholarships for undergraduates: the John and Lydia Stohs Endowed Scholarship in Pharmacy and Health Professions (named for his parents) and the Sidney J. Stohs, Ph.D. Endowed Scholarship in Pharmacy and Health Professions.

Dr. Sidney Stohs started collecting mortar and pestle sets as a student in the 1960s. By the time of his donation in 2008, the collection had grown to almost 200 sets, including the 19th-century bronze mortar and pestle in the photo (at right). He said in an article in the Health Sciences Library newsletter, I wanted my collection to be viewed and appreciated by as many people as possible. I enjoy history, and I believe other health professionals do also.

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