George Potanovic, Jr., author of a recent book on the history of Lederle Laboratories of Pearl River, NY titled, "Honoring Our Heritage: Celebrating the People, Science and Innovation at Pearl River" will speak in the Community Room of the Pearl River Public Library on Tuesday, June 5 at 7 p.m.
The 9x12 inch, almost 200-page book traces the 105-year history of Lederle Laboratories in Pearl River, N,Y. from its founding by Dr. Ernst Lederle, who was born on Staten Island, NY in 1865 and went on to become chief chemist of the New York City Department of Health and twice New York City Health Commissioner at the turn of the century.
This was a time when there were many serious health issues challenging the city. Thousands of new immigrants were entering through Ellis Island each week, sanitation laws were practically non-existant and diphtheria, small pox, tuberculosis and polio were all on the rise while 7,000 children under the age of five died each year of diseases traceable to contaminated milk. Lederle's innovative leadership as health commissioner helped to develop and form the policies and regulations that we now expect from a municipal heath department and he did this with a dedication to serving the public good, eliminating waste and reducing the incidence of disease. Lederle assisted in the development of the first diphtheria vaccine produced in America, supported the use of new medicines, saw that public health codes were enforced, product regulations developed and fraudulent activity prosecuted. These activiities led to an overall improvement of the quality of life of all city residents and businesses.
Lederle left his first term as health commissioner in 1904, began a consulting business and, in 1906, formed Lederle Antitoxin Laboratories in New York City when he saw the business opportunity and the need to develop new medical products. As business expanded, he purchased a 99-acre dairy farm in Pearl River, NY and began moving the company's production operations there in 1907. Only three years later, in 1910, Lederle returned as New York City Health Commissioner and relinquished all business ties to Lederle Laboratories.
The book required one year to research and produce. It is filled with interesting facts and uses photographs, postcards, artifacts, short stories, a timeline and news events to provide a biographical sketch of a company, a community and its people that started in Pearl River, NY, changed its name four times, and continues to contribute so much to the field of medical research, development and scientific discovery as one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world.
"This book attempts to capture the amazing history of Lederle Laboratories in Pearl River, NY, which is a very important part of Rockland County's history and a tribute to the proud and dedicated people who served, as Dr. Lederle had envisioned it, the greater public good," said book author, George Potanovic, Jr.
Petanovic was the graphic designer, art director and principal writer for the book through his company, Sun Studios Design of Stony Point, NY. Pfizer commissioned Sun Studios Design to produce the commemorative book and DVD for its employees and retirees. The book received an historical preservation citation from the Historical Society of Rockland County at the Historical Society Preservation Merit Awards held on May 20.
The June 5 event begins at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public. The Pearl River Pubic Library is located at 80 Franklin Avenue, Pearl River, NY. For information, contact Local History Librarian, James Cassetta at JCassetta@RCLS.org or call the library at 845-735-4084.