Towson, Maryland: 1916. Quarter cloth over marbled boards with paper label to spine. Manuscript notebook measuring 10 x 7.75 inches and comprised of 49 pages of class notes in nutrition and dietetics and an additional eight pages of recipes to rear. With the exception of some damage to the fore-edge of the first several leaves (not affecting text), notebook is largely clean and legible. Compiled by Nellie K. Allen, a student working at the Sheppard and Pratt Hospital in Towson, Maryland, likely as part of their occupational therapy program.
An exemplar in the field of psychiatric care, the Hospital "served as a mental facility and training school for psychiatric medical professionals. The hospital's administration stressed improved hygiene and sanitation for the treatment of mental illnesses" (The Clio). Designed with input from activist Dorothea Dix, the hospital offered a corrective to problematic nineteenth and early twentieth century approaches to mental illness by centering patient dignity and providing residents with "comfortable and polite treatment that included privacy, fresh air, sunlight," and healthy diets (The Clio). In the present notebook, Nellie Allen documents her lessons in the spring semester of 1916, including material on Classification of Foods, Liquid Diet, Soft Diet, Soft or Convalescent Diet, Light Desserts, and Diet and Disease as well as a Bibliography at the opening detailing the texts available to her as reference guides. It is a well organized program in which she participates-- and a fairly new one, having only been implemented ten years priori in response to there being "no other formal program of psychiatric training for physicians during the time. A training school for psychiatric nurses was established there in 1905" (Sheppard Pratt). From 1911-1918, the period of Nellie's training, the hospital expanded this program to include occupational therapy including nutrition and recreation.
Nellie's well organized and detailed course notes -- likely designed for use later in her career as a reference -- give us insight into evolving medical knowledge about the human body, the human mind, and its relationship to food (as well as alcohol, which is occasionally here advised to be administered as in the cases of fortifying brandy and diarrhea-curative red wine). They also provide insight into how the country's first psychiatric training program, which emphasized whole-care in collaboration with a consenting patient, shaped the future of the field.
Notably, additional research could be done into Nellie Allen's past education and future career. Census records for Baltimore during the surrounding periods locate two different women under this name -- one Black and one white -- and we have been unable to determine which woman created the present notebook. (Item #5315)