John Harvey Kellogg Papers

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John Harvey Kellogg Papers

The materials in this online repository are digitized versions of the John Harvey Kellogg manuscript collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the John Harvey Kellogg Papers online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Battle Creek, Michigan physician, food scientist, founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Correspondence, student notebooks from University of Michigan and Bellevue Hospital, drafts of speeches and lecture notes, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks, and topical files; include material concerning medical theories and practices, especially matters of diet and hygiene, his work with organizations such as the National Vitality League, Race Betterment Foundation, Battle Creek Three Quarter Century Club, Chicago Workingmen's Home and Medical Mission, and Seventh-Day Adventists; also photographs.

John Harvey Kellogg, born February 26, 1852, earned worldwide acclaim in his lifetime as a health reformer and propagandist, and as head of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Kellogg is now best known in connection with the line of breakfast cereal products made by the company that bears his name. While John Harvey Kellogg conceived the notion of flaked corn as a healthful morning repast, it was his brother, Will Keith, who turned his hand to the development of the breakfast food company. John Harvey Kellogg was also a skilled surgeon, an editor, and scientist who saw himself as primarily an educator determined to focus public attention on preventive medicine as the means to maintain good health. The main thrust of Kellogg's good health message was that vegetarian diet, regular exercise, fresh air, and sunshine are the keys to a long and vigorous life. Kellogg was a testament to the efficacy of his principles, living to age ninety-one and working diligently until succumbing to pneumonia on December 14, 1943.

Kellogg's father, a convert to Seventh Day Adventism, moved his family to Battle Creek when John Harvey was age four; thus the young Kellogg grew up well versed in the health reform principles of the Adventists. Many of these tenets, especially regarding vegetarianism and temperance, were elements of Kellogg's mature thinking on healthful "biologic living." Kellogg, an 1875 graduate of Bellevue Hospital Medical College, brought a solid training in orthodox medicine to his health reform efforts. In this, he differed from most earlier health reformers, whose systems often lacked grounding in science. Kellogg made repeated trips to Europe to keep abreast of developments in medicine, surgery, and physiology in order to buttress the scientific foundations which supported his health teachings.

Upon completion of his medical training, Kellogg returned as medical superintendent of the Adventists' Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek. Kellogg's vigorous efforts as a promoter and publicist soon brought the Battle Creek Sanitarium (as the Institute was renamed in 1876) to national prominence as "a place where people learn to stay well." Kellogg used the Sanitarium as a testing ground for the application of his "Battle Creek idea" on the effect of diet, exercise, correct posture, fresh air, and rest on the health and fitness of individuals. The program did enhance health. Kellogg and the Sanitarium prospered, despite policy differences with the Seventh Day Adventists, a 1902 fire which destroyed the building, and receivership debt due to overbuilding, until the 1930s Depression cut down patronage. In good times, Kellogg traded heavily on the celebrity of the Sanitarium's clientele to sell his health reform ideas. In hard times, he relied on the strength of the science which girded his system to keep pushing health. Throughout his sixty-seven year association with the Sanitarium, Kellogg never wavered in his faith in the rectitude of the "Battle Creek idea."

Kellogg was a prolific author and had a ready venue of publication in Good Health, a magazine he edited for nearly seventy years. Kellogg incorporated many of the ideas which appeared first as articles in Good Health into nearly fifty books. Included among them are: Body in Health,Colon Hygiene, New Dietetics, Plain Facts about Sexual Life, Practical Manual of Health and Temperance, and Rational Hydrotherapy. These books manifest Kellogg's efforts to bring the new medical science to the general public. Kellogg also lectured from coast-to-coast touring his message before as large an audience as possible. Finally, Kellogg's dynamic personality attracted disciples to Battle Creek to study at the feet of the master of "rational" medicine; these disciples in turn propagated Kellogg's ideas that medical science pointed to adherence to a vegetarian regimen of moderation as the surest way to good health.

Please note:

Copyright has not been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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