(This is the fourth in a series of posts on eponyms.)
Sylvester Graham (1794-1851) is best known today for his eponymous bread and crackers, although he would not recognize (or approve of) some of the products now known by his name. For example, chocolate graham crackers or graham crackers with a cinnamon-and-sugar topping are substantially different from the graham crackers originally created by Graham. Indeed, we should probably use the terms “graham bread” and “graham crackers” only in conjunction with the use of graham flour, also created by and named after Sylvester Graham, and in which the components of the wheat kernel are ground separately (the endosperm finely; the bran and germ coarsely) and then combined. (See the description of graham flour given on the Home Cooking channel on About.com.)
Graham flour is classed in 641.3311 Food from wheat (built with 641.3 Food plus 311 from 633.11 Wheat, following the add instructions at 641.33–.35 Specific food from plant crops. Graham bread is classed in 641.815 Bread and bread-like foods (a see reference at 641.3 Food indicates that interdisciplinary works on specific dishes are classed in 641.8 Cooking specific kinds of dishes and preparing beverages).
And then we come to graham crackers. Are they really crackers? (Sylvester Graham must have thought so.) If so, they should be classed in the same number as graham bread (crackers are mentioned in the including note at 641.815 Bread and bread-like foods). Or, given that modern graham crackers are often located alongside cookies on grocery store shelves, should they be classed in 641.8654 Cookies? (A see reference at 641.815 draws off pastries to 641.865, of which 641.8654 is a subdivision.) We could pursue these questions by exploring the relationship between graham crackers and digestive biscuits, as well as the relationship between English biscuits and American cookies. We could look at definitions of crackers, biscuits, and cookies. In the end, perhaps the clearest thing we could say is that graham crackers are neither the prototypical cracker nor the prototypical cookie, but the original graham cracker was more cracker-like and modern graham crackers tend to be more cookie-like. In reality, the question is somewhat moot, because the literature on graham crackers is almost always on some aspect of graham crackers (e.g., nutrition education; the graham cracker market) that takes it outside of 641 altogether.
Sylvester Graham’s creation of graham flour, graham bread, and graham crackers was a part of the Graham Diet, which eschewed white bread, meat, and spices (as well as alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea), espousing instead a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A leading advocate of the healthy food movement in the 19th century, Graham helped to establish the American Vegetarian Society. To round out the story, early in his adult life, Sylvester Graham was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and was also associated with the Pennsylvania Temperance Society, serving as a traveling speaker. In sum, Graham was a social reformer.
“Social reform movements” appear in the class-here note at 303.484 Purposefully induced change, where the scatter class-elsewhere note, “Class innovation and reform directed to a specific end with the end, e.g., reform of banking 332.1” also appears. Consequently, health reform should be classed in 613 Personal health and safety, while diet reform should be classed in 613.2 Dietetics; health reformers and diet reformers would be classed in 613.092 and 613.2092, respectively. A biography emphasizing his contributions to vegetarianism would be classed more specifically in 613.262092 Vegetarianism—biography. A biography on Graham emphasizing that his dietary reforms were aimed at curbing alcoholism or curbing sexual urges might be classed in 613.81092 Alcohol abuse—biography or 613.95092 Sex hygiene--biography, respectively. (Although Sylvester Graham was not formally educated in medicine, the title of Martha H. Verbrugge’s “Healthy Animals and Civic Life: Sylvester Graham's Physiology of Subsistence” [Reviews in American History 9:3 (September 1981), 359-364] is not meant ironically. Numbers in 610 Medicine and health therefore are not inappropriate.)
But what would the comprehensive biography number for Sylvester Graham be? The Manual note at T1—092 Biography instructs us, “If the person made approximately equal contributions to a number of fields”—which seems to be the case here—“use the number for the subject that provides the best common denominator.” For this reason, we should choose a general number. A comprehensive biography for Sylvester Graham should therefore be classed in 613.092 Personal health—biography.