Culinary History Collection


Current Editor: Cynthia D. Bertelsen

Issue 7 Winter 2005

Florence Nightingale's Influence on Civil War Nutrition

Abstract of a paper by Ann Hertzler published in Nutrition Today (2004) Vol 39 (4), 157-160.

The Army of Virginia published Florence Nightingale's Directions for Cooking by Troops in Camp and Hospital in 1861. The introduction of nutrition into American military food directives prevented many losses from malnutrition and poor sanitation and represents the beginning of nursing and dietetic principles. Nutrients contributing to health were nitrogen (1/2 pint of milk = 1/2 pound meat) and carbon (breads-grains, vegetables-fruit, fat, and sugar). Camp recipes (coffee, 6 meat based) and Hospital recipes for patients with scarlet fever, typhoid, and dysentery consisted of meat and chicken broths, alcohol, starchy gruels, and beverages. Directions are given for preparing these recipes and their use in feeding the sick. Her manual also contained directions for "Taking Food". Thirty-five years later the first US food guide was issued paralleling similar food groupings.

(Many of the resources used to research this article are part of the Culinary Collection, which is housed in Special Collection at Newman Library Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA).

(Editor's note: The University Libraries subscribes to Nutrition Today in print and electronic format. The call number for the print journal is TX 341 N8. Access to the electronic format is restricted to Virginia Tech faculty, students, and staff.)

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