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Munsell papers

Identifier: MS 0575

Scope and Contents

The Hazel E. Munsell Papers consist of correspondence, writings, research notes, bibliographies, biographical information, and photographs. The material primarily relates to her professional work as a nutritionist for a variety of organizations. Most of Munsell's correspondence relates to her earlier work in the field of nutrition, including her participation in the National Nutrition Conference in 1941, her work on the Pentagon Nutrition Research Project, 1943-1949, her research at the School of Tropical Medicine in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1942-1947, and her work with the Pan American Sanitary Bureau at the Instituto Nacional de Nutrición in Quito, Ecuador, 1950-1954. Letters between Munsell and other nutritionists including Robert Samuel Harris, Louise Stanley, Charlotte Chatfield, and Ben-Ami Ben-Dor contain conversations about new research and publications. A number of differences between nutritionists over food values and the ideologies of the science are reflected in the letters. Many of Munsell's writings, chiefly articles for scientific journals, are contained in the collection. They include her dissertation, "The Quantitative Determination of Relative Amounts of Vitamin A" (1924), and works based on that study, "Planning the day's diet for vitamin content" (1939), "Vitamins and Their Occurrence in Foods" (1941), and "Composition of Food Plants of Central America I-VIII" (1949-1950). When in Puerto Rico, Munsell wrote a controversial article in 1944 entitled "Food and Nutrition Problems in Puerto Rico," which prompted her resignation from the School of Tropical Medicine. Also included in the collection are many research notes and food charts. The notes reflect her work in determining vitamin and mineral values for a variety of foods and in establishing a standard for a healthy diet. Along with her research notes are a number of glass plate slides that depict lab rats on a variety of different diets. Munsell's annotated bibliography consists of citations and annotations for much of the research she did from her dissertation until her retirement. The biographical information primarily consists of newspaper articles about Munsell's accomplishments, most of which were written after her retirement. They address her work throughout her life and discuss her activities after retirement. A list of publications is also included with the biographical information. Photographs in the collection depict Munsell during her early professional career, including a photograph taken shortly after she received her Ph.D. in 1924. A number of photographs from a 1937 KMBC, Kansas City, Missouri radio interview entitled, "The Low-Down on Some Famous Food Notions," are included, along with a photograph of Munsell at her 70th reunion at Mount Holyoke College in 1984.


  • Creation: 1914-1979

Conditions Governing Access


Biographical Note

Hazel E. Munsell was born on April 9, 1891 in Monson, Massachusetts. She attended Monson Academy for five years before coming to Mount Holyoke, where she received her B.A. in 1914. Between 1917 and 1918 she returned to Mount Holyoke as a Graduate and Teaching Assistant in Chemistry. She then taught at various schools from 1914-1920, when she enrolled at Columbia University. She received an M.A. in 1921 and a Ph.D. in 1924. From 1924-1942 she worked in the Nutrition Laboratory for the United States Department of Agriculture. She was in charge of a clinical research laboratory at the School of Tropical Medicine in San Juan, Puerto Rico from 1942-1944, and worked as a Special Investigator at the Nutrition Laboratory at the Pentagon between 1944-1946. In 1946 she was appointed a research associate in food technology at M.I.T., and helped establish a food analysis laboratory at the National Institute of Nutrition in Quito, Ecuador from 1950 through 1952. In 1953 she returned to Munson to care for her aged father. She taught chemistry and science at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., from 1955 to 1957, after which she retired. She published extensively on nutrition from 1924 to 1965. Hazel Munsell died on August 17, 1989 in Holyoke, Massachusetts.


15 boxes (Faculty/Staff)

Language of Materials



Munsell, Hazel Edith, 1891-1989; Nutritionist. Mount Holyoke College graduate, 1914. Mount Holyoke College faculty member, 1917-1918. Papers include correspondence, writings, research notes, bibliography, biographical information, and photographs. Primarily documenting her work as a nutrition researcher at the Pentagon and in Puerto Rico and Ecuador.

Munsell papers, 1914-1979.
Finding Aid
Edited Full Draft
© 2003
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Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Repository

50 College Street
8 Dwight Hall
South Hadley MA 01075-6425 USA