Antique photo of the Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan.

1863 to 1900:
The Early Days

In the aftermath of the Civil War, the process of building a united nation began. Meanwhile, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was founded in Battle Creek, Michigan. With the spiritual and prophetic guidance of Ellen White and the medical leadership of John Harvey Kellogg, MD, our legacy of whole-person care was born.

The Beginning of the AdventHealth Legacy

Midway through the American Civil War, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was founded in Battle Creek, Michigan. Learn more about the formative events that shaped our whole-person healing legacy between 1863 and 1900.


The Seventh-day Adventist Church is Founded

On May 23, 1863, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was officially founded in Battle Creek, Michigan. Distinguished by its observance of Saturday as the Sabbath — the original seventh day of the Judeo–Christian week — and by its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the movement now has a worldwide membership of over 17 million people and has a missionary presence in over 200 countries.


Opening of the Western Health Reform Institute

In 1866, a small group of Seventh-day Adventist believers opened the Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan, later known as the Battle Creek Sanitarium. They began pioneering health practices that changed society’s fundamental understanding of medicine and healthy living. In sharp contrast to the medical practices of the day, they turned to the Bible and found many scriptures that gave timeless advice on how to live a healthy life.


Battle Creek College is Founded

Founded in 1874, Battle Creek College was the first Adventist college and is known today as Andrews University. Andrews now attracts undergraduate to doctoral students from around the globe. U.S. News & World Report ranks Andrews University as one of the most culturally diverse universities in the nation.

Today, Adventists operate the largest protestant educational system in the world, with nearly 8,000 schools — from preschools to universities — in more than 100 countries. A major focus of Adventist schools is training new generations of skilled, compassionate health care providers.


John Harvey Kellogg Becomes Superintendent of Battle Creek Sanitarium

Shortly after graduating with his medical degree in 1875, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg became the first medical director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. He researched new and better ways to help his patients stay healthy and, in the process, created a more nutritious breakfast option than the unhealthy options offered at the time, still known and enjoyed today as Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. He led the Sanitarium until his death in 1943.

C. W. Barron, the founder of The Wall Street Journal, once told a reporter he didn’t understand Dr. Kellogg, saying, “He should have been one of the richest men in the world, but that he lets money slip through his fingers so easily.”

Kellogg’s response was, “What is money for, except to make the world better, to help people have a better life?”


Ellen White Publishes Healthful Living

An influential and prophetic figure, Ellen G. White wrote much about health, healthy eating and a vegetarian diet. In her book Counsels on Diet & Foods, she gives advice on eating nutritious foods in moderation. She also warns against the use of tobacco, which was medically accepted in her time. Her views on health are expressed in the writings Healthful Living, The Health Food Ministry and The Ministry of Healing.

Co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and founder of many health sanitariums, including Battle Creek Sanitarium, Ellen White was instrumental within the small group of early Adventist health pioneers (that included her husband, James White) in advocating for healthy living and whole-person care.

Share Your Piece of Our Legacy

Do you have a special story about the AdventHealth legacy or a historical memorabilia item? Reach out to our Legacy Preservation Team at [email protected] and share your special piece of our living history.