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Blunt, Katharine (28 May 1876–29 July 1954), college administrator, educator, and nutritionist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Stanhope English Blunt, an army officer and technical writer, and Fanny Smyth. Little is know about her childhood except that she was first educated at a preparatory school before attending Miss Porter’s School in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1894 she enrolled at Vassar, where she studied chemistry. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an A.B. in 1898, then returned home to her family and engaged in service to her church and community for four years....

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Corson, Juliet (13 January 1841?–18 June 1897), founder of the New York Cooking School and pioneer in the scientific cookery movement, was born in Mount Pleasant, Massachusetts, the daughter of Peter Ross Corson, a prosperous produce merchant, and Mary Ann Henderson. (Although most obituaries and biographical sources give Corson’s birth date as 1842, the Vital Records of Roxbury, Massachusetts, give the date as 1841.) Corson’s family moved to New York City when she was six years old. In New York her uncle, Alfred Upham, helped to raise her and provided her with a classical education. She began to support herself in her late teens after her mother’s death....

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Davis, Adelle (25 February 1904–31 May 1974), nutritionist and author, was born Daisie Adelle Davis on a farm in Lizton, Hendricks County, Indiana, the daughter of Charles Eugene Davis and Harriette McBroom. Ten days after Davis’s birth, her mother became paralyzed, then died when the baby was seventeen months old. Davis later was said to have decided on a career in nutrition in reaction to having been malnourished as a baby when after her mother’s death she was fed with a medicine dropper. The youngest of five daughters, Davis was raised by her father and an elderly aunt. She later dropped the name Daisie because of its association with farm animals. Despite the large family, she had a strict and lonely upbringing. As a child she worked on the farm and attended 4-H meetings....

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Goldsmith, Grace Arabell (08 April 1904–28 April 1975), nutritionist and public health educator, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Arthur William Goldsmith, an accountant, and Arabell L. Coleman. An only child, she attended the University of Minnesota before transferring to the University of Wisconsin, where she received a B.S. in 1925. Active in all sports and an accomplished dancer, she was physical director at the YWCA in New Orleans, Louisiana, before entering the Tulane University Medical School, where she received her M.D. in 1932. She gave dancing lessons to pay her bills and graduated first in a class of 108 that included only six women....

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Ruth M. Leverton. Courtesy of Jeffrey S Hampl.

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Leverton, Ruth M. (23 March 1908–14 September 1982), scientist and dietitian, was born Ruth Mandeville Leverton in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Ernest Richard Leverton, an engineer, and Helen Ruth Mandeville Leverton. The family moved often because of her father's career. After her high school senior year in Deadwood, South Dakota, they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where she began studying at the University of Nebraska....

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Morgan, Agnes Fay (04 May 1884–20 July 1968), nutrition scientist and home economics administrator, was born Jane Agnes Fay in Peoria, Illinois, the daughter of Irish immigrants Patrick John Fay, a laborer and builder, and his second wife, Mary Josephine Dooley. Morgan graduated as an outstanding student from Peoria High School and with financial aid from a local citizen briefly attended Vassar College and then the University of Chicago, from which she received the B.S. (1904) and M.S. (1905) in chemistry....

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Roberts, Lydia Jane (30 June 1879–28 May 1965), home economics educator and nutritionist, was born in Hope Township, Barry County, Michigan, the daughter of Warren Roberts, a carpenter, and Mary McKibbin. She attended grade school and high school in Martin, Michigan. After graduating from high school (1898), Roberts obtained a Limited Teaching Certificate (qualification for teaching in only certain elementary schools) from Mt. Pleasant Normal School in 1899 and began teaching in rural Michigan. Her adventuresome nature led her to teaching positions in Miles City and Great Falls, Montana, before she returned to obtain her Life Certificate (qualification for teaching in all rural and urban schools) from Mt. Pleasant in 1909. She then taught third grade and served as a critic teacher, or supervisor of student teachers, in the local normal school in Dillon, Montana. Having observed a relationship between the health of her students and the quality of their diets, Roberts wanted to know more about the nutritional needs of children. To pursue this knowledge she entered the University of Chicago in 1915 at the age of thirty-six, ending her seventeen-year career as an elementary school teacher....

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Rorer, Sarah Tyson (18 October 1849–27 December 1937), cooking teacher and diet reformer, was born Sarah Tyson Heston in Richboro, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Charles Tyson Heston, a pharmacist, and Elizabeth Sagers. The family resided in Buffalo, New York, but Elizabeth Heston returned to her mother’s home for the delivery of her firstborn. “Sallie,” as she was called, grew up in the Buffalo area and attended East Aurora Academy, a female seminary. She later attributed the beginnings of her interest in cooking reform to her father’s poor health and delicate digestion resulting from service in the Civil War. Around 1869 the family returned to eastern Pennsylvania, and in 1871 Sallie Heston married William Albert Rorer, a clerk/bookkeeper, in Philadelphia’s Second Reformed Church. The couple had three children, one of whom died in early childhood....

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Rose, Mary Davies Swartz (31 October 1874–02 February 1941), nutrition researcher and educator, was born in Newark, Ohio, the daughter of Hiram B. Swartz, a lawyer, judge, inventor, and mayor of Wooster, Ohio, and Martha Jane Davies, a former schoolteacher. After moving to Wooster when she was three, Mary Swartz, the first of five children, was educated in Wooster public schools and graduated first in her high school class there in 1892. Then, apparently at a loss as to what to do next, she spent nine years teaching history and botany at the Wooster high school while also studying at nearby Shepardson College, later a part of Denison University, where she received a bachelor of letters degree in 1901....

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Wheeler, Ruth (05 August 1877–29 September 1948), nutritionist and educator, was born in Plains, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Jared Ward Wheeler and Martha Jane Evans. She was influenced by her Welsh grandfather, a minister concerned with feeding the poor. Wheeler’s mother taught her to read, and she graduated from high school in West Pittston, Pennsylvania, to which her family had moved. Wheeler entered Vassar College and took remedial work in Latin and algebra before receiving her A.B. in 1899. She taught high school science and German in West Pittston and Saratoga Springs, New York. Beginning in 1905, she was a chemistry instructor for five years at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. During this time, Wheeler became interested in home economics, a field undergoing professionalization and offering scientific opportunities for women....