John Harvey Kellogg was born on February 26, 1852, in Tyrone, Michigan to John Preston Kellogg and Anne Jeanette Stanley. His family moved to the village of Battle Creek when he was four years old. He was raised in a devout Seventh-day Adventist family and was familiar from an early age with the "healthy living" tenants advocated by his church.
In 1866 church founders, Ellen and James White, had opened a Health Reform Institute, where hydrotherapy, or the water cure, was practiced. The Institute was moderately successful but needed the firm hand of a full-time medical director. The Whites recognized the potential of the teen-ager and helped finance John Harvey Kellogg's medical studies at the Bellevue Medical College in New York City. Upon graduation in 1875, the young doctor Kellogg returned to Battle Creek and became medical superintendent of the Institute. He coined the term "Sanitarium" and changed the focus of the Health Reform Institute from hydrotherapy to medical and surgical treatment.
Kellogg continued his life-long dedication to education to improve his medical knowledge and surgical skills. He made several trips abroad to study medicine, surgery and physiology with leading European medical figures. He was a fellow of the leading medical societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American College of Surgeons and the American Medical Association. Dr. Kellogg introduced several new techniques, primarily in abdominal surgery, and had an extraordinarily low mortality rate in the more than 22,000 operations he performed during his 67 year career.
He took no fees for his work with the Sanitarium or for any of his surgeries. His entire personal income was derived from royalties from the nearly 50 books and medical treatises which he published during his long career. Dr. Kellogg wrote primarily about his principles of "biological living," constantly seeking to educate the public, as well as his peers in the medical profession, about the virtues of his health reform ideas.
The Battle Creek Sanitarium became Kellogg's laboratory for developing and promulgating his "Battle Creek Idea" that good health and fitness were the result of good diet, exercise, correct posture, fresh air and proper rest. Through his vigorous efforts to promote and publicize the institution, Kellogg raised the Sanitarium to national prominence as a "place where people learn to stay well."
The rich and famous flocked to Battle Creek, often making annual trips of several weeks. Here they were pampered in elegant surroundings while their bodies were restored to health with healthy diet and scientifically planned exercise.
After only a few years Kellogg had increased the patronage at the Sanitarium so much that new buildings were necessary to meet the needs of all the patients. By 1888 the dormitory and treatment rooms could accommodate between 600 and 700 patients. Kellogg also developed a complex of colleges associated with the San, where doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dietitians and medical missionaries were trained.
The San continued to prosper until a 1902 fire consumed the entire main building, Only 15 months later the new fireproof San was dedicated, ready to receive several thousand guests a year. A staff of 800 to 1,000 including 30 physicians and 200 nurses and bath attendants stood ready to serve their patients' needs
By 1928, further expansion was necessary and a fifteen-story addition was built, incorporating the latest in fashion and luxury to accommodate the hundreds of patients waiting to take the cure in Battle Creek. Unfortunately, the stock market crashed the next year and the rich patrons who had patronized the San no longer could afford to come.
Dr. Kellogg continued to operate the San despite increasing financial difficulties. However, by the end of the 1930s it was clear the institution could no longer survive at its current size. In 1942 the main building was sold to the federal government and Dr. Kellogg moved his treatment center to the Fieldstone Annex building up the street.
The former Sanitarium building was converted into the Percy Jones General and Convalescent Hospital, an orthopedic hospital which served the. nation's veterans through World War II and the Korean conflict. It was the US Army's largest medical installation until 1954 when the building was converted to offices for federal civilian and military departments.
John Harvey Kellogg died on December 14, 1943, at the age of 91, still active as a physician and administrator. The doctor was famous for his 15 hour days, keeping two secretaries occupied transcribing his dictation. At his death, Kellogg held more than 30 patents for food products and processes as well as exercise, diagnostic and therapeutic machines. He is credited with developing such diverse products as peanut butter, a menthol nasal inhaler and the electric blanket.