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Dr. Russell Thacker Trall – Timeline
Dr. Russell Thacker Trall

1812: Trall was born in Vernon, Connecticut, growing up to be a farmer’s son. He was the 7th child of Russell and Tirzah Thatcher Trall.

1835: Obtained his M.D. in 1835 from Albany Medical College.

1840: Dr. Trall began a “regular” (allopathic) practice. Discontent with the results of most therapies, he based his practice on the ideas of Vincent PrieBniz, a European health reformer (water cure), and Sylvester Graham (health through healthy living).  

1844: The Water Cure Institution in New York began, founded by Dr. Trall. It was the first to begin in the United States. From this point in time, Dr. Trall did not administer a grain of drug-medicine or alcoholic stimulation of any kind.

  • His institute was a cross between an urban health farm and a boarding house, offering plain vegetarian meals, hydrotherapy treatments, a gymnasium, public rooms, and, starting in the 1860s, a health food shop selling whole grains, cereals, Graham bread (Trall was a friend of Sylvester Graham), and his books on food reform, hygiene, sex, and physiology. 

1847: Trall started the New York Hygienic Institute on Leight Street, New York City, and continued to direct it until 1864.

1849: Trall, with Joel Shew and Samuel R. Wells, founded the American Hydropathic Society. Trall and Wells also established the American Anti-Tobacco Society in 1849.

1849: Trall married Emily, and they had 4 children.

1850: William Alcott, William Metcalfe (pastor of the Bible-Christian Church, founded 1817 in Philadelphia), Russell Thacker Trall, and Sylvester Graham united to create the American Vegetarian Society (AVS). Following a founding convention in New York City, the society’s first official meeting occurred in Philadelphia’s Bible-Christian Church on September 4, 1850. The first meeting would also elect Dr. William Alcott as the AVS president, a title held until his death in 1859. Metcalfe and Graham were elected vice presidents, and Trall was the recording secretary. The society promoted vegetarian precepts (then intertwined with pacifism, women’s suffrage, and the abolition of slavery) across the nation. By the time of the Civil War, the group’s membership and influence waned, partially because the fight for abolition had turned to military violence. 

1850: Trall organized a convention for the American Hydropathic Society in New York City, and during this year, the Society became the American Hygienic and Hydropathic Association of Physicians and Surgeons.

1851: Published The Hydropathic Encyclopedia: A System of Hydropathy and Hygiene; In Eight Parts. 

1853: Published Home Treatment for Sexual Abuses. A practical treatise.

1853: Trall founded the New York Hydropathic and Physiological School, becoming the New York Hygeio-Therapeutic College in 1857, and was authorized to confer the degree of M.D. Here, he taught that mainstream medicine required a revolution–a vision of health as an active state to be positively achieved by methods learned from nature.  He transferred operations to New Jersey in 1867 with his Hygeian Home. 

  • His students learned water treatment and nutrition, the virtues of self-discipline, and emotional, sexual, and physical moderation, along with procedures like mesmerism and magnetism.
  • In this college, men and women were admitted on equal terms. Allowing women to be admitted on equal terms was an incredible opportunity, as there were very few places they could be educated.
Russell Thacker Trall's Institute

1853:  Published Sexual Diseases: Their Causes, Prevention, and Cure, on Physiological Principles

1853: Published The New Hydropathic Cook-Book. This publication contains recipes for cooking using hygienic principles and a philosophical exposition of the relations of food to health: the chemical elements and proximate constitution of alimentary principles, the nutritive properties of all kinds of ailments, the relative value of vegetable and animal substances, and the selection and preservation of dietetic materials.

1854: Published Uterine Diseases and Displacements: a Practical Treatise on the Uterus and its Appendages’ Various Diseases, Malpositions, and Structural derangements

1855: Published Tobacco: its History, Nature, and Effects with Facts and Figures for Tobacco Users

1856: Published The Alcoholic Controversy; a Review of the Westminster Review on “The Physiological Errors of Teetotalism.

1857: Published The Illustrated Family Gymnasium. 

1861: Published Nervous Debility: the Nature, Causes, Consequences, and Hygienic Treatment of Invalids Suffering from Prematurely Exhausted Vitality. 

1862: Published Pathology of the Reproductive Organs: Embracing All Forms of Sexual Disorders. 

1862: Published Diphtheria

1862: Published Diphtheria: its Nature, History, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment on Hygienic Principles: with a Resumé of the Various Theories and Practices of the Medical Profession.

1863: Trall became the editor of “The Water-Cure” journal, which was later renamed “The Herald of Health”. 

1864: Published The True Temperance Platform, or An Exposition of the Fallacy of Alcoholic Medication: being the substance of addresses delivered in the Queen’s Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, and in Exeter Hall, London, 

1866: Published Alcoholic Medication

1867: Edited The Water-Cure journal, which he later renamed The Herald of Health. Trall was an advocate of a system known as “hygeiotherapy”, a mixture of hydrotherapy with diet and exercise treatment regimes that included fresh air, hygiene, and massage.

1868: Trall was invited to teach a course of health lectures in Battle Creek at the close of annual general conference meetings.

1869: Published The New Hydropathic Cook-Book: with Recipes for Cooking on Hygienic Principles, Containing also a Philosophical Exposition of the Relations of Food to Health; the Chemical Elements and Proximate Constitution of Alimentary Principles; the Nutritive Properties of All Kinds of Aliments; the Relative Value of Vegetable and Animal Substances; the Selection and Preservation of Dietetic Materials.  

1872: Published The True Healing Art: Or, Hygienic vs. Drug Medication – An Address Delivered in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D. C. Dr. Trall delivered a landmark lecture at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. before the most distinguished medical minds of the United States entitled The True Healing Art, or Hygiene vs. Medication.”  The lecture was widely published and circulated among the populace, and the health reform movement in America reached its height.  Ironically, in 1861, with the onset of the Civil War, national attention focused on survival, and health reform ended.  

1872: Published  An Essay on Tobacco-Using; Being a philosophical exposition of the effects of tobacco on the human system. Battle Creek, Michigan. Office of the Health reformer. 

1873: Published The New Hydropathic Cook-Book: with recipes for cooking on hygienic principles, containing also a philosophical exposition of the relations of food to health. 

1873: Published The Health and Diseases of Woman

1873: Published The Hygienic Hand-Book: intended as a practical guide for the sick room, arranged alphabetically, with an appendix illustrative of the hygeio-therapeutic movements.

1873: Published Diseases of the Throat and Lungs

Recipe from The Hygeian Home Cook-Book
or Healthful and palatable food without condiments.

1874: PublishedThe Hygeian Home Cook-Book. It was America’s first known vegan cookbook.

1874: Published Digestion and Dyspepsia: a Complete Explanation of the Physiology of the Digestive Processes. New York: S.R. Wells.

1874: Published The Mother’s Hygienic Hand-Book for the Normal Development and Training of Women and Children, and the Treatment of their Diseases with Hygienic Agencies

1874: Published The Hygeian Home Cook-Book; or, Healthful and palatable food without condiments.  Trall’s earlier cookbooks promoted vegetarianism. However, “The Hygeian Home Cook-Book,” published in 1874, was the first vegan cookbook in America. This influential book features recipes that do not include milk, sugar, salt, yeast, acids, alkalies, grease, or condiments of any kind. Trall was a staunch advocate against the consumption of alcohol, coffee, meat, and tea, and voiced concerns about the potential health risks associated with spices.

1875: Published Popular Physiology: a Familiar Exposition of the Structures, Functions, and Relations of the Human System, and their Application to the Preservation of Health

1875: Published Sexual Physiology: a Scientific and Popular Exposition of the Fundamental Problems in Sociology. 

1875: Published The Human Voice: Its Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Therapeutics, and Training.   

1875: Published The Household Manual of Domestic Hygiene, Foods and Drinks, Common Diseases, Accidents 

1881: Published Uterine Diseases and Displacements: a Practical Treatise on the Various Diseases, Malpositions, and Structural Derangements of the Uterus and its Appendages

1882: Published The Human Voice: its Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Therapeutics, and Training: with rules of order for lyceums.

1883: Published Water-Cure for the Millions – The processes of water-cure explained: popular errors exposed; hygienic and drug medication contrasted; rules for bathing, dieting, exercising, etc.; recipes for cooking; directions for home treatment.

1885: Published Sexual Physiology and Hygiene, or The Mysteries of Man. New York: M.L. Holbrook & Co.

1891: Published Sexual Physiology and Hygiene: an Exposition Practical Scientific Moral and Popular of Some of the Fundamental Problems of Sociology. 

1895: Published Sexual Physiology and Hygiene. New York Fowler & Wells Co. 

Yet more than 100 years after Trall’s death, and after billions of tax-payer dollars have been spent on health care, our nation has yet to fully utilize the drugless doctor’s ideas.

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