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Atkins, Robert (17 October 1930–17 April 2003), physician and diet specialist, was born Robert Coleman Atkins in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Eugene Atkins, a confectioner who later owned a bar and cigar store, and Norma Tuckerman. The great-grandson of Russian-Jewish immigrants on both sides, Atkins grew up in Dayton, Ohio, to which his family moved in 1941. He shared his mother's social ambitions and taste for fine art. A diligent student, he came in second in a statewide scholarship test in 1947. That year he enrolled as a premedical student at the University of Michigan where, in his sophomore year, he was elected to the honor society Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated in 1951, spent the summer as a waiter and stand-up comic at a resort in the Catskills, and went on to enroll in Cornell University Medical College in New York City, from which he received an M.D. in 1955. Atkins served residencies in cardiology at the University of Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital and Columbia University's St. Luke's Hospital in New York City, and in 1960 he opened a private office in Manhattan....

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Atwater, Wilbur Olin (03 May 1844–22 September 1907), nutritionist and professor of chemistry, was born in Johnsburg, New York, the son of William Warren Atwater, a methodist clergyman, and Elizabeth Barnes. The family moved from place to place within New England during his childhood. He attended the University of Vermont for two years but graduated in 1865 from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. After three years of teaching school, he moved to Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School as a graduate student in agricultural chemistry under Professor ...

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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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Hart, Edwin Bret (25 December 1874–12 March 1953), biochemist and nutritionist, was born near Sandusky, Ohio, the son of William Hart and Mary Hess, farmers. Hart developed an interest in the natural sciences at Sandusky High School. In 1892 he entered the University of Michigan and became an assistant to the chemist E. D. Campbell, who had lost his eyesight in a laboratory explosion. Hart’s duties included reading to Campbell and taking him places by tandem bicycle. In 1897 he received a B.S. in chemistry and had his research published as coauthor with Campbell. He then became an assistant chemist at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, performing routine food analyses for a year before being given the opportunity to work with Lucius Van Slyke on animal nutrition and dairy chemistry. In 1900 he took a two-year leave of absence to study for a Ph.D. with the protein chemist Albrecht Kossel at the University of Marburg in Germany. Kossel moved to Heidelberg in 1901, and Hart went with him. Heidelberg, however, would not accept the academic credits earned at Marburg. Unable to finish the degree requirements before returning to New York, Hart never obtained a Ph.D. From 1902 to 1906 he developed an outstanding reputation as a dairy chemist. In 1903 he married Ann Virginia De Mille, an actress and relative of ...

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Hauser, Gayelord (17 May 1895–26 December 1984), nutritionist and author, was born Helmut Eugene Benjamin Gellert Hauser in Tübingen, Württemburg (now in unified Germany), the son of Christian Hauser, a schoolmaster, and Agate Rothe. He had his name legally changed to Bengamin (or Benjamin) Gayelord Hauser in 1923. In 1911 Hauser, then only sixteen, came to the United States from Germany to join his elder brother, Otto Robert Hauser, the pastor of a church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, very soon thereafter, the young Hauser was stricken with tuberculosis of the hip; after several operations, doctors declared his case hopeless....

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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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Pritikin, Nathan (29 August 1915–21 February 1985), inventor and nutritionist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Jacob Pritikin, an outdoor sign salesman, and Esther Leavitt. Nathan’s nurturing parents supported and encouraged their enterprising son. In 1933 he enrolled in the University of Chicago. The ambitious student also owned Flash Foto, a prosperous photography business. In 1935 Pritikin withdrew from college and made a fortune inventing technical gadgets....

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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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Rose, William Cumming (04 April 1887–25 September 1985), biochemist and nutritionist, was born in Greenville, South Carolina, the son of John McAden Rose, a Presbyterian minister, and Mary Evans Santos. Rose’s family moved to North Carolina in 1881, living first in Morganton, then in Laurenberg. In Laurenberg, when he was twelve, Rose was placed in the Quackenbush School, but after two years his father found his son’s instruction was inadequate and decided to teach him at home. In this isolated environment, Rose’s father thoroughly drilled him in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. While Rose was receiving this classical education, he began reading ...

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Sherman, Henry Clapp (16 October 1875–07 October 1955), chemist and nutritionist, was born near Ash Grove, Virginia, the son of Franklin Sherman and Caroline Clapp Alvord, farmers. After receiving an education in a rural, ungraded school, Sherman entered Maryland Agricultural College (now the University of Maryland) and earned a bachelor of science degree in 1893. He was an assistant to the state chemist of Maryland until 1895, when he began graduate study in chemistry at Columbia University, becoming in 1897 the youngest person to receive a Columbia Ph.D. From 1897 to 1899 he was an assistant in analytical chemistry at Columbia and also assisted ...

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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....

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Williams, Robert Ramapatnam (16 February 1886–02 October 1965), chemist and nutritionist, was born in Nellore, India, the son of Robert Runnels Williams and Alice Evelyn Mills, missionaries. His mother educated him at a Baptist mission in Ramapatnam. After an accident crippled his father, the family returned to the United States in 1896. Williams attended schools in Kansas and California before enrolling in 1905 at Ottawa University in Kansas. Two years later he transferred to the University of Chicago, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry in 1907 and 1908, respectively. He met Augusta Parrish at Ottawa. They married in 1912 and had four children....