Pellagra in Alabama

pellagrinIn the U.S. the nutritional deficiency disease pellagra, which became a scourge in the South, had its beginning and end in Alabama, being first recognized in epidemic proportions by Alabama physician Dr. George H. Searcy in 1906, and ending with Dr. Tom D. Spies' nutritional treatment clinic at Hillman Hospital in Birmingham, which operated from 1937 to 1960. In 1914, Dr. Carl A. Grote, Walker County public health officer, was the first to conduct field work to determine the etiology of the disease in an actual community setting, prior to and independent of Dr. Joseph Goldberger who is righty credited for discovering the nature of pellagra but who at Grote's writing had only studied the disease in controlled environments. This web exhibit highlights Alabama's valiant campaign against the devastating disease known as the “red death.”

Through a scanning project by the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), important material related to the campaign by Carl Grote and other Alabama physicians has been digitized and made publicly available for viewing from the UAB Institutional Repository. Supported by an Express Technology grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Region, this will continue to be an ongoing program of Institutional Repository development focused on the history of medicine and healthcare in Alabama and the South.