Stevens, Harriet Adeline, 1909-
- Existence: 1909 -
Harriet Adeline Stevens had a long and distinguished career in the field of nutrition education and dietetics. The daughter of Guy and Adeline Stevens, she was born in Iowa City, Iowa, on October 25, 1909. She graduated from University High School, Iowa City, in 1928. Stevens received a B.A. in Home Economics and a certificate of education with high distinction from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) in 1932. She also received an M.A. in Nutrition from the State University of Iowa in January 1934.
After teaching one term at Emporia State Teacher's College in Emporia, Kansas, Stevens moved to Chicago. She held a variety of supervisory positions in the dietary department of the University of Chicago Clinics between July 1934 and November 1938. Seeking a change of pace, she took charge of the main kitchen of the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) in Richmond, Virginia. With the outbreak of war in late 1941, her best workers "soon found out they could get paid more by the Army than they were paid by MCV!" Once she heard from other dieticians that "working conditions [in the Army] were a snap," she enlisted immediately.
Stevens joined the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and served as a Medical Hospital Dietician at Camp Gordon, Georgia from March 1942 to February 1945. In October 1943, she was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant- Head Medical Hospital Dietician. She served overseas between March 1945 and December 1945, working at a camp hospital in Great Britain for a time. She received an honorable discharge in January 1946.
On return to civilian life, she spent the summer of 1946 taking dietetics coursework at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She then accepted the post of Senior Nutritionist with the New York Department of Health, a job she held from 1946 to 1951. She returned to the University of Iowa in 1951 and taught in the Home Economics Department from 1951 to 1974. During that time, she taught or assisted in the teaching of a wide range of nutrition and child-care courses. Her approach to teaching was pragmatic and applied, in keeping with her considerable practical experience. She continued her education at the University of Iowa, working closely with Dr. Margaret Ohlson of the Dietetics Department of the University Hospital. Stevens also produced a number of distinguished publications. In 1961, she won honorable mention in the Lydia J. Roberts Essay Award Competition, one of the highest honors bestowed by the American Dietetics Association. Her final major publication, Fixing and Eating (1974), showed children how to prepare easy, nutritious recipes. She was a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Home Economics Association, and Phi Beta Kappa.
Although she retired in 1974, Stevens continued to take an active interest in the University. She actively opposed the targeting of "historically female" departments by the University Steering Committee in 1991. She also endowed the Stevens Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually by Phi Beta Kappa in memory of her parents, thereby encouraging academic excellence.