• history of nutrition;
  • history of public health nursing

Abstract  Public health nursing work has always involved education about nutrition and food habits. Nurses serve as interpreters of scientific and medical knowledge and as agents of behavioral change among the individuals and groups for whom they provide care. For public health nurses in mid-20th-century America, this meant direct involvement in many aspects of family life at home. Meal preparation and the eating patterns of family members were two areas into which most public health nurses had access. This brief history provides an introduction to some of the issues confronting American public health nurses at mid-century. Examining the content of articles related to nutrition in families around mid-century yields evidence about the role of the nurse, the state of the art in nutritional knowledge, and opinions and prejudices related to eating habits prevalent at the time. These glimpses into concerns expressed in the original Public Health Nursing journal may enhance understanding of the role of public health nurses in preventing diet-related disorders and form the basis for additional historical research.