Edwards, Cecile H. 1926–2005

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Edwards, Cecile H. 1926–2005

(Cecile Hoover Edwards)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born October 26, 1926, in East St. Louis, MO; died of respiratory failure, September 17, 2005, in Washington, DC. Nutritionist, educator, and author. Edwards was a well-known nutrition expert who specialized particularly in the dietary needs of pregnant African-American women. After graduating from the Tuskegee Institute with a B.S. in 1946 and an M.S. in 1947, Ed-wards completed a Ph.D. at Iowa State University in 1950. Upon returning to Tuskegee to teach, she was a research associate and assistant professor at the Carver Foundation during the early 1950s and head of the department of foods and nutrition from 1952 to 1956. She then moved on to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she was a professor of nutrition and research through 1971, the last three years of which she also served as head of the department of economics. From the 1950s and into the 1970s Edwards conducted extensive research into the amino acid methionine. After joining the faculty at Howard University, an historically African-American college, Edwards became involved in studying the unique nutritional needs of American blacks. A number of people at the time believed that African Americans were inherently less intelligent than Caucasians because of genetic factors, but Edwards went on to show that test scores among African-American children were being adversely affected by poor nutrition. Much of the problem, she found, could be solved with the addition of foods such as black-eyed peas, which were both healthy and easily affordable to lower-class populations. Other factors besides nutrition that contributed to low test scores included unstable home environments and low-quality schooling. As part of her concern for better education in the area of diet, Edwards founded the School of Human Ecology at Howard University in 1974, where she served as dean until 1987. She was also the dean of continuing education from 1987 to 1988 before retiring as professor emeritus in 1999. In her later career, Edwards became involved in studying pica, an eating disorder that compels people to eat items such as glue, clay, and paste. She authored, coauthored, or edited several books, including Current Knowledge of the Relationships of Selected Nutrients, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drug Use, and Other Factors to Pregnancy Outcomes (1988) and Human Ecology: Interactions of Man with His Environments: An Introduction to the Academic Discipline of Human Ecology (1991).



American Men and Women of Science, 22nd edition, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2005.

Notable Scientists: From 1900 to the Present, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.


News & Record (Piedmont Triad, NC), September 21, 2005, p. B5.

Washington Post, September 24, 2005, p. B6.

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Edwards, Cecile H. 1926–2005

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