Episode 207: John Harvey Kellogg

In this episode of The Reference Desk, Katie is bewitched by the strange medical inventions and treatments of John Harvey Kellogg at his Battle Creek Sanitarium. 

John Harvey Kellogg was a Seventh Day Adventist darling who gained directorship over their medical facility in mid-Michigan just a year after becoming a doctor. What followed was Kellogg becoming the face of modern medicine, beloved by America for bringing a renaissance of health. But behind the famous celebrities and politicians that flocked to his facility is a darker story. Kellogg fought with his brother until his death, completed horrific surgeries on children in the effort to stop the “evil vice,” and was a staunch eugenicist who fought to create a national race register. 

Books mentioned in this episode (available at our bookshop):

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Region of Biologic Living by Brian C. Wilson

The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markel

The Sawbones Book: The Hilarious, Horrifying Road to Modern Medicine by Dr. Sydnee McElroy, Justin McElroy

The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle

The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenadore

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue 

The House of God by Samuel Shem


The Secret Ingredient in Kellogg’s Corn Flakes is Seventh-Day Adventism

Dr. John Kellogg Invented Cereal. Some of His Other Wellness Ideas Were Much Weirder

John Harvey Kellogg’s Legacy of Cereal, Sociopathy, and Sexual Mutilation 

The Wild Story Of John Harvey Kellogg, The Eccentric Wellness Guru Who Invented Corn Flakes

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