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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c54

D. Mark Hegsted papers


The D. Mark Hegsted Papers, 1952 to 1999, consist of correspondence, committee files and reports, manuscripts, and meeting minutes generated as a product of the professional career of David Mark Hegsted, a nutritional scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, from 1942 to 1980. The bulk of the collection is Hegsted's correspondence with national and international institutions and individuals on topics of human nutrition and diet.


  • Creation: 1952-1999 (inclusive),
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1960-1978 .


Language of Materials

Records are entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Access to Harvard University records is restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series II and Series IV. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series I, II, III, IV, and V. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

The Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to consult Public Services for further information concerning retrieval of material.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all materials in the collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting any third-party copyright holders for permission to reproduce or publish. For more information on the Center's use, publication, and reproduction policies, view our Reproductions and Use Policy.


28 cubic feet (28 records center cartons)

Consists of records created and collected by D. Mark Hegsted during his career as an administrator, researcher, and Federal official in the field of nutrition and public health studies. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence from Hegsted’s national and international correspondents, including the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, the United States Senate, the Wheat Flour Institute, the American Institute of Nutrition, the American Institute of Baking, the American Medical Association, the American Bakers' Association , the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institutes of Health. Also included in the collection is correspondence from individuals associated with these organizations or other researchers in Hegsted's fields of interest, including Ancel Keys, records pertaining to Hegsted's manuscript and writing projects, and records from meetings or workshops in Hegsted’s fields of interest. The collection includes reports, manuscripts, and committeee files reflecting Hegsted's involvement with the American Institute of Baking, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council's Food and Nutrition Board, as well as his work at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Materials are entirely in English.

Biographical Notes

D. (David) Mark Hegsted (1914-2009), B.A., 1936, University of Idaho, Moscow; Ph.D., 1940, University of Wisconsin, Madison, was a Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston from 1942 to 1980. Hegsted also held appointments as: Administrator of Human Nutrition in the United States Department of Agriculture (1978-1982); Associate Director for Research at Harvard Medical School's New England Regional Primate Research Center (1982-1986); Editor of Nutrition Reviews (1968–1978); and Associate Editor for both the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1958–1968) and the Journal of Nutrition (1950–1952). Hegsted’s main areas of research and professional work were nutrition and dietary science; he focused on researching the relationship between food consumption and health.

David Mark Hegsted was born in Rexburg, Idaho in 1914. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Idaho in 1936 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1940. After receiving his Ph.D., Hegsted worked for one year as a researcher with Abbott Laboratories in Chicago. In 1942, he was recruited as one of the first faculty members in the newly opened Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. He stayed with the Department until his retirement in 1980, becoming a full professor in 1962. During his time at the School of Public Health, Hegsted worked with the Federal government as the Administrator of Human Nutrition in the Department of Agriculture (1978-1982). He also worked as the Associate Director for Research at the New England Regional Primate Research Center at Harvard Medical School from 1982 to 1986.

In the early 1960s, Hegsted and a team of researchers were responsible for the development of a mathematical model (later known as the “Hegsted equation”) which predicts the effect of fat in food on human serum cholesterol levels. In the mid-1970s, Hegsted helped to draft the original Dietary Goals for Americans, which was later adapted into the Federal publication, Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Goals, and later Guidelines, recommended a generally "lighter" diet, adding more fruit and vegetables and moving away from dependence on sodium and fat-heavy foods. The Goals were originally hotly contested, as meat, milk, and egg producers saw them as a direct attack on the centrality of these foodstuffs in the American diet.

Hegsted served as president of the American Institute of Nutrition and on advisory committees for the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Research Council. In 1973, Hegsted was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He was also a fellow of the American Institute of Nutrition and the American College of Nutrition.

During his professional career, Hegsted received the Osborne and Mendel Award, the Conrad A. Elvehjem Award for Public Service in Nutrition, the Bristol-Myers Squibb/Mead Johnson Award for Distinguished Achievement in Nutritional Research, and a Distinguished Recognition Award from the American Diabetic Association. In 2007, Hegsted received a Professor Emeritus Award of Merit from the Harvard School of Public Health and there is an annual lecture fund jointly named after Hegsted and Professor Fredrick Stare, the founding chair of the Department of Nutrition.

Hegsted died on 16 June 2009 in Westwood, Massachusetts. His wife, Maxine Scow Hegsted, predeceased him in 1998. Hegsted was survived by his son, Eric Hegsted, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Series in the Collection

  1. I. Correspondence, 1954-1999
  2. II. General Correspondence, 1952-1992
  3. III. Manuscripts, 1966-1996
  4. IV. Committees, 1960-1978
  5. V. Meetings and Workshops, 1971-1985

Processing Information

Processed by Hanna Clutterbuck in 2011 utilizing folder lists prepared by Joyce Dolan Clifford in February 2010.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine refoldered and described material and created a finding aid to improve access. The material was reboxed and refoldered for preservation, but was not re-arranged. Records as they appear in the finding aid reflect the original accession order and record groups (series) designated by the creator. Series names (Correspondence, General Correspondence, Manuscripts, Committees, Meetings and Workshops) were not assigned by Center staff, but have been left as they were to reflect the original folder titles and arrangement. Five folders that were previously unlisted were discovered during digitization of the collection, and have been added to the box and folder list. These folders can be found in boxes 02, 09, 11, and 14. To maintain their positions within the folder arrangement, they were numbered using the previous folder’s number, with a “B” appended to the end (ex. “35B” for a folder appearing between 35 and 36). (2020 February 05)

Hegsted, D. Mark (David Mark), 1914-2009. Papers, 1952-1999 (inclusive), 1960-1978 (bulk): Finding Aid.
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Language of description
The D. Mark Hegsted Papers were processed with grant funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as awarded and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Repository Details

Part of the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) Repository

The Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is one of the world's leading resources for the study of the history of health and medicine. Our mission is to enable the history of medicine and public health to inform healthcare, the health sciences, and the societies in which they are embedded.

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