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Harriet Austin, M.D.
December 29, 2021
Harriet Austin, M.D.


Harriet Austin was a hydrotherapist, author, and dress reform advocate. She was among the first women in the world to receive the title Doctor of Medicine and one of the first doctors (male or female) to specialize in hydrotherapy. 

She went into practice at Our Home Hygienic Institute, which became the largest hygienic institute in the world. Working with Dr. James Jackson, she promoted and practiced his principles, which included simple food, clean air and water, sunshine, solid sleep, exercise, and hydropathy treatments as needed. 

As editor of the magazine Laws of Life, she spread the message of Hygiene and remained in this position throughout her life. She also authored several books on women’s health, bathing, and dress reform.

Together with Susan Dodds, Harriet Austin promoted the National Dress Reform Association. To support the movement, she created and modeled an outfit that she felt would promote health. She dressed in this style her entire life.

She was an influential female natural health practitioner of the 19th century, a dress reform advocate, and a true trailblazer. She became one of the great pioneers of the National Hygiene Movement, a cornerstone of the National Health Association.

“People need to learn that the natural condition of human beings is one of health; and that every instance of sickness and suffering, unless caused by accident, is brought about by some wrongdoing, either on the part of the sufferer or others.”

-Harriet Austin, M.D. (1826-1891)
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