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Bobby D. Weaver

O. M. FRANKLIN SERUM COMPANY. In 1916 O. M. Franklin, a veterinarian, developed the first successful blackleg vaccine, Aggressin, in the United States in Wichita, Kansas. Blackleg had become a deadly cattle disease in the Midwest and the West. Franklin and three other veterinarians had been investigating the disease for four years at the Kansas Experiment Station at Manhattan. In 1916 they moved to Wichita, Kansas, where they built a small two-room plant to manufacture the drug. By 1917 they were joined by Charles E. Collins of Colorado and some other cattlemen to organized the Blackleg Serum Company of Kansas. That year they moved to Amarillo, Texas, where they built a new plant. Because Aggressin required the use of calves and was so expensive to manufacture, Franklin produced a cultural method of growing the blackleg bacteria in a liver broth and killed the germs with formalin. In 1918 the first blackleg bacterin was developed in Amarillo; it was tested on 50,000 calves in herds in the Texas Panhandle and Colorado for a period of four years. By 1923 the bacterin had proved itself, was patented, and sales began. Franklin is considered a pioneer is his use of formalin in the production of clostridial and other vaccines. At first the company produced only Aggressin and bacterin, but in 1925 it began to sell livestock supplies and by 1930 had added pharmaceutical supplies and other vaccines. By 1971 the laboratory employed forty people and produced twenty vaccines. Total employment, including that of branch offices, was 150. Between 1917 and 1972 the company produced 250 million doses of blackleg protection. Annual sales reached over $5 million per year. The company had become the largest cattle vaccine and supply company in the world; branch offices reached throughout the United States and Canada, and there was an export division. In 1927 the name was changed to the O. M. Franklin Blackleg Serum Company, but in 1937 Blackleg was dropped from the name. The Franklin Serum Company was sold in 1963 to American Home Products and became Franklin Laboratories.

B. Byron Price and Frederick W. Rathjen, The Golden Spread: An Illustrated History of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle (Northridge, California: Windsor, 1986).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Bobby D. Weaver, "O. M. FRANKLIN SERUM COMPANY," accessed October 14, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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