The H.J. Lutcher Stark Center

The Jesse Mercer Gehman Photo Collection

A Finding Aid to the Collection at the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture & Sports

Descriptive Summary

Collector: Jesse Mercer Gehman, 1901-1976
Title: Jesse Mercer Gehman Photo Collection
Dates: 1918-1975
Abstract: The Jesse Mercer Gehman Photo Collection has three distinct parts and contains material from Jesse Mercer Gehman, Doris Doscher Baum and Bernarr Macfadden. Jesse Mercer Gehman was a naturopathic doctor, amateur wrestler, magazine editor, author, and active professional in the field of physical culture, natural health, and fitness. The collection documents Gehman’s interest and participation in wrestling during the 1920s-1930s. Included in the collection are photographs of wrestling poses that were published in the magazines Muscle Builder and Physical Culture as well as portraits of wrestlers from the era. The collection also contains materials related to Gehman's involvement in American Better Health Publications, American Vegetarian-Hygienist, Health and Strength magazine and The Natural Living Foundation Internationale from the 1920s-1960s. Gehman’s material also includes personal family photographs, as well as a small number of newspaper clippings, postcards, colored slides, negatives, and correspondence.
Abstract: Doris Doscher Baum was a leading female journalist, model and actress whose work centered on physical culture and naturopathy. Doris’s materials include articles and photographs on stretching exercises, photographs from her career as a model and film actress in the 1920s, and family photographs. Additionally, the collection includes materials related to Bernarr Macfadden, the owner of Macfadden Publications, a prolific author on topics such as health, fitness and bodybuilding, and Gehman’s employer at Physical Culture. The Macfadden materials, which have a small but significant presence in the collection, include his family scrapbook from the 1920s in addition to photographs of Macfadden in his late years.
Extent: 12 Archival Photograph Boxes, 97 Folders, 1393 items
Repository: H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Jesse Mercer Gehman was born circa 1901 and died in 1976. Gehman was active in the emerging field of alternative medicine, health reform, and naturopathy. In 1925 he graduated from the American College of Naturopathy and Chiropractic with degrees in nutrition (DCN), naturopathy (ND) and chiropractic (CD). He completed a doctorate in natural philosophy in 1931. His professional career began with research on the effects of smoking on health, which included the publication of Smoke Over America (1943), Living Today for Tomorrow (1947), and Is Smoking Harmful? (1950). Gehman’s interest in natural health led him to pursue diet- and fitness-related reforms, and he began writing about the benefits of a vegetarian diet in the late 1950s, and was published in: American Better Health Publications and their journal, American Vegetarian-Hygienist (both of which he served as editor); Health and Strength magazine; and The Natural Living Foundation Internationale, of which Gehman was a founder with Vincent Collura. Gehman also served as president of various associations, including the American Naturopathic Association (1947) and the American Vegetarian Union (1949). He served as secretary and president of the Citizens Medical Reference Bureau from the 1930s-1950s, was a chairman of the first American Vegetarian Convention in 1949, and was the vice president for The International Vegetarian Union from 1960 to 1976.

Throughout his life, Gehman also fostered an interest in wrestling. He and his brother, Marvin Mercer, were amateur wrestlers (Gehman wrestled under the name Jim Mercer), and Gehman competed professionally from 1925 to 1926. It was through this interest that Gehman would meet, personally train, and work for Bernarr Macfadden, the owner of Physical Culture, whose materials also appear in the collection. Macfadden, born in 1868 as Bernard McFadden, was actively involved in physical culture, bodybuilding, nutrition, and natural health. He founded the company, Macfadden Publications, which published magazines, such as: True Detective, True Story, Ghost Stories, the New York Graphic, Muscle Builder and SPORT. He was most known for the magazine, Physical Culture, which he founded in 1899 and served as editor until 1912. Macfadden also wrote on health, fitness, and bodybuilding topics, and published over 100 books during his lifetime. In his later years, Macfadden established various health institutions, educational and training programs, and boarding schools throughout America’s northeast and midwest. In 1903, he married his first wife and had his first daughter, Bryne, a year later. In 1913, he married his second wife, Mary Williamson, with whom he had three girls, three boys, and adopted a daughter, Helen. Macfadden and Mary separated in 1932 and were divorced in 1946. Macfadden died in 1955 in New Jersey.

Gehman would also develop professional relationships with other leaders and practitioners in the natural health and alternative medicine. One of these professional relationships was with the Baums, H. William and Doris (who was known by her maiden name, Doscher), who also appear in the collection. Doscher was a writer and model for natural health and physical culture in the 20th century. Doscher, born in 1882 in New York, is credited with being one of the first health and beauty columnists in the newspaper industry. Her daily column, “Beauty, Health, Physical Culture and Psychology” was published in The New York World in the 1920s. Doscher was also a silent film actress, under the name Doris Doree, as well as a model. She was chosen to pose for the American Standing Liberty Quarter, in mint from 1916 to1930, and was nicknamed “Miss Liberty.” She was also on the cover of Macfadden’s Physical Culture in 1920. Later in her career, Doscher served as president of the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Naturopathic Association and wrote about health for the American Vegetarian Hygienist and American Better Health Publications. Doscher was married to Baum, who was a physiotherapist, chiropractor, and a professional acquaintance of Gehman’s. Doscher and Baum had one daughter, Miriam Baum Kiriluk. Doscher died in New York in 1970.

Scope and Content

Jesse Mercer Gehman Photo Collection: 12 Archival Photograph Boxes, 97 Folders, 1918-1975, 1393 items

This collection is comprised of photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, and ephemera dating from roughly 1919 to the mid-1970s, with the bulk of the materials dating from the 1920s to the 1940s. Most of the items are photographs, but the collection also includes a small number of newspaper clippings, typewritten articles, broadsides, postcards, colored slides, negatives, and correspondence. The collection is divided into three distinct parts: materials related to Jesse Mercer Gehman, those relating to Doris Doscher Baum and family, and those of Bernarr Macfadden and family. The Gehman materials comprise approximately two thirds of the collection, and the primary subject documented is wrestling, appearing as photographic series for the magazines Muscle Builder and Physical Culture. There are also a number of signed photographs given to Gehman by amateur and professional wrestlers such as Frank Brono and Harold Ross. Another significant portion of the collection consists of Doris Doscher Baum’s articles and photographs on stretching exercises. There are also photographs that document her modeling and acting career, including materials from when she modeled for the American Standing Liberty Quarter. Bernarr Macfadden’s materials include publicity photographs of Macfadden in his later years. The collection also includes family photographs and scrapbook materials from Jesse Mercer Gehman, the Baum family and the Macfadden family, which depict Gehman’s wife, Agnes, and their son, Jason; Doris’s husband, H. William Baum, and their daughter, Miriam Baum; and Bernarr Macfadden, his second wife Mary, and his children.

Collection Arrangement

The collection is divided into four groupings: three for each family represented in the collection, and one for unidentified items. The Jesse Mercer Gehman group is arranged into five series by type: Publications, Photographs, Organizations and Affiliations, Scrapbook, and Ephemera. These series are then arranged by subject: publication title, organization, or activity. Items that can be linked to publishing in general, but not to a specific publication, are located within the Unspecified Publications file in the Publications series. Photographs that have been identified as belonging to Gehman, but which cannot be further identified as being of a particular publication, sport, activity, or organization are within an Unidentified file in the Photographs series.
The Doris Doscher Baum, H. William Baum and Family grouping is divided into series by individual. Items belonging or closely associated with Doris Doscher Baum are divided by type: Modeling, Photographs, Publications, and Scrapbook. H. William Baum’s items are treated similarly to create the second series. The third series consists of items that belonged to both Baums - Ephemera, Photographs or part of a Scrapbook.
The Bernarr Macfadden and Family grouping is divided into two series by type: Photographs and Scrapbook. The final document grouping, Unidentified, contains materials that cannot be linked to any specific person or family in the collection.
Sub-series and files are arranged alphabetically throughout the collection, due to the lack of consistent dating of items. Items within files are arranged chronologically when possible, with the exception of the file of signed wrestlers’ photographs in Gehman’s Photograph series, which are arranged by the name of the wrestler. Undated items are arranged by name, either as it was marked on the item, or as assigned by the processors. All photographs are placed two to an envelope, unless otherwise noted.
An indexing system was created for photographs in where no identification was possible. Each photograph is assigned a three-part identifier, consisting of six letters and a number written on its envelope. The first three letters signify the person’s collection to which the photograph belongs: GEH (Gehman, Jesse Mercer), BAD (Baum, Doris), BAH (Baum, H. William), BAF (Baum Family) and MAC (Macfadden, Bernarr) or UNI for the final series of unassociated photographs. The second three letters signify the general subject of the photograph or if it is part of a scrapbook: DNC for Dance, WRE for Wrestling, and SCR for Scrapbook, for example. (These subject codes are listed below.) Photographs are then assigned a number following the six letters. Each person or subject within each individual’s sub-group begins with “1” and follows numerically. For example, the fifth unidentified Wrestling photograph in the Jesse Mercer Gehman sub-group is identified as GEH-WRE-5.
Collection Codes:
BAD -- Baum, Doris
BAF -- Baum Family
BAH -- Baum, H. William
GEH -- Gehman, Jesse Mercer
MAC -- Macfadden, Bernarr
UNI -- Unidentified
Subject Codes:
ACT -- Acting
BDM -- Badminton
BOX -- Boxing
DNC -- Dance
GEN -- General (Photographs that cannot be associated with a sport or activity)
POS -- Posing
SCR -- Scrapbook
STR -- Stretching
SWM -- Swimming
WRE -- Wrestling



Access to the Jesse Mercer Gehman Photo Collection is restricted to visitors of the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture & Sports. The Stark Center welcomes access inquires and encourages research appointments. For more information, phone (512) 471-4890, email, or visit

Restrictions on Use

The Stark Center retains the right to limit the use of the Jesse Mercer Gehman Photo Collection under certain conditions. No copies of any materials in the collection may be made without permission.


The user is cautioned that the publication of any of the contents of this collection may be construed as constituting a violation of literary property rights. These rights derive from the principle of common law, affirmed in the 1976 copyright act, that the writer of an unpublished letter or other manuscript has the sole right to publish the contents thereof for the duration of the copyright. Unless he or she affirmatively parts with that right, the right descends to his or her legal heirs regardless of the ownership of the physical manuscript itself. It is the responsibility of an author or his publisher to secure permission of the owner of literary property rights in unpublished writing. This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Right to Privacy: Sensitive Materials Statement

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center and the University of Texas at Austin assumes no responsibility.

Subject Index

Acting: pages 16 and 18
Dancing: pages 12 and 13
Modeling: page 16
Posing: pages 11, 12, 13 and 16
Badminton: page 13
Boxing: page 13
Stretching: pages 13, 14 and 17
Swimming: pages 12, 14 and 17
Wrestling: pages 11-12, 14, 15 and 17
Yoga: page 15
Key Names:
Baum, Doris Doscher: pages 16-18
Baum, H. William: page 18
Baum, Miriam: page 18
Gehman, Jesse Mercer: pages 10-12, 14 and 15
Macfadden, Bernarr: page 18
Pendleton, Nat: pages 11 and 12
International Vegetarian Union: page 15
American Better Health Publications: pages 9-10
American Vegetarian Hygienist: page 11
Health and Strength: page 11
Muscle Builder: pages 11-12
Physical Culture: page 12
The Evening Standard: page 16
The New York World: page 17
The Pittsburg Press: page 16

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

The Jesse Mercer Gehman Photo Collection, H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture & Sports, The University of Texas at Austin. [There is no space between H. and J.]

Processing Information

Claire Cella and Kathleen O’Connell processed the collection in 2013 under the supervision of Brent Sipes. To contact The Stark Center about the content of the collection, please phone (512) 471-4890, email, or visit .

Container List

Jesse Mercer Gehman Photo Collection1918-1975
(12 boxes, 97 folders, 1393 items)

Jesse Mercer Gehman1919-1964, undated
Publications (Contains photographs)1923-1960, undated
(347 items, 40 folders)
1-2 American Better Health Publications1957-1964
(147 items, 21 folders)
box folder
1 1 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanNov. 3, 1961
(4 items)
2-3 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanNov. 6, 1961
(15 items)
4 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanNov. 7, 1961
(8 items)
5-6 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanNov. 8, 1961
(9 items)
7 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanNov. 9, 1961
(7 items)
8-10 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanNov. 10, 1961
(29 items)
11-12 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanNov. 11, 1961
(18 items)
13 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanNov. 12, 1961
(7 items)
14 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanFeb. 18, 1962
(7 items)
15 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanApril 20, 1962
(12 items)
16 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanApril 23, 1962
(4 items)
17 Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanMay 28, 1964
(7 items)
box folder
2 18 Received by Francis HiltonMarch 19, 1958
(3 items)
19 Received by Francis HiltonOct. 2, 1958
(4 items)
20 Received by Francis HiltonOct. 16, 1958
(10 items)
21 Theater Productions1957
(3 items)
American Vegetarian Hygienist1954-1958
(17 items, 3 folders)
22 Received by Francis HiltonFeb. 14, 1954
(2 items)
23 Received by Francis Hilton1955
(3 items)
24 Received by Francis HiltonMarch 30, 1958
(12 items)
Health and Strengthundated
(1 items, 1 folder)
25 Wrestling Photographs undated
(1 item, 1 envelope)
2-3 Muscle Builder1924-1925, undated
(119 items, 7 folders)
box folder
2 26 Posing1924, undated
(5 items, 3 envelopes)
27 Wrestling Course #1-24, Jesse Mercer Gehman and Nat PendletonFeb. 1924-July 1924
(24 items, 12 envelopes)
28 Wrestling Course #25-48, Jesse Mercer Gehman and Nat Pendleton Aug. 1924-Nov. 1924
(24 items, 12 envelopes)
box folder
3 29 Wrestling Course #49-72, Jesse Mercer Gehman and Nat PendletonDec. 1924-March 1925
(24 items, 12 envelopes)
30-31 Wrestling Course, unpublishedFeb. 1924, undated
(34 items, 17 envelopes)
32 WrestlersOct. 1924, undated
(8 items, 4 envelopes)
3-4 Physical Culture1923-1928, undated
(27 items, 4 folders)
box folder
3 33 Dance Exercisesundated
(14 items, 7 envelopes)
34 Posing1923-1924, undated
(11 items, 6 envelopes)
box folder
4 35 Swimmers1928
(1 item, 1 envelope)
36 Wrestlingundated
(1 item, 1 envelope)
Unspecified Publication1937-1960, undated
(36 items, 4 folders)
37 Received by Francis HiltonDec. 17, 1955
(5 items)
38 Received by Francis HiltonMay 29, 1956
(2 items)
39 Received by Unknown1955
(6 items)
40 Unidentified Photographs1937-1960, undated
(23 items, 12 envelopes)
Photographs1923-1954, undated
(236 items, 19 folders)
4 Badmintonundated
(5 items, 1 folder)
1 Badmintonundated
(5 items, 3 envelopes)
(14 items, 1 folder)
2 Boxingundated
(14 items, 7 envelopes)
(19 items, 2 folders)
3 Stretching for Danceundated
(16 items, 8 envelopes)
4 Danceundated
(3 items, 2 envelopes)
5 Headshotsundated
(2 items, 1 folder)
5 Headshotsundated
(2 items, 1 envelope)
Posing1923-1924, undated
(28 items, 3 folders)
6 Portraits for McFadden Publication Studio undated
(6 items, 3 envelopes)
7 Portraits of Jesse Mercer GehmanDec. 1923-Jan. 1924, undated
(11 items, 6 envelopes)
8 Portraits of Unidentified MalesDec. 1923-Jan. 1924, undated
(11 items, 6 envelopes)
Stretching Exercises1924, undated
(40 items, 4 folders)
9 Female Stretching Series undated
(4 items, 2 envelopes)
10 Jesse Mercer Gehman SeriesApril 7, 1924
(12 items, 6 envelopes)
11 Jesse Mercer Gehman Series #1-9June 1924
(14 items, 7 envelopes)
12 Jesse Mercer Gehman Seriesundated
(10 items, 5 envelopes)
(2 items, 1 folder)
13 Swimmers1928
(2 items, 2 envelopes)
6 Unidentified1924-1954, undated
(44 items, 1 folder)
14 Personal, Unidentified1924-1954, undated
(44 items, 22 envelopes)
Wrestling1923-1949, undated
(72 items, 4 folders)
15 Mr. Physical Culture Postcards 1949
(2 items)
16 Wrestlers, Named: Bothner-Pagano1923-1937, undated
(25 items, 13 envelopes)
17 Wrestlers, Named: Patterson-Wilson1923-1937, undated
(22 items, 12 envelopes)
18 Wrestlers, Unidentified1920-1924, undated
(23 items, 12 envelopes)
(10 items, 1 folder)
19 Yoga Posesundated
(10 items, 6 envelopes)
Organizations and Affiliations1950
(9 items, 2 folders)
7 International Vegetarian Union1950
(9 items, 2 folders)
1 International Vegetarian Union Congress1950
(3 items, 2 envelopes)
2 Congress Photographs Received by Jesse Mercer GehmanJuly 1950
(6 items, 3 envelopes)
Scrapbook1919-1924, undated
(162 items, 3 folders)
7 Photographs1919-1924, undated
(162 items, 3 folders)
1-3 Personal Photographs 1919-1924, undated
(162 items, 87 envelopes)
Ephemera1932-1962, undated
(33 items, 7 folders)
8 Advertising1961-1962
(25 items, 3 folders)
1 Assortedundated
(2 items)
2 CalendarMarch 1961-June 1962
(15 items)
3 “Fall Denim Days”1961
(8 items)
Newspaper Clippings1945
(3 items, 2 folders)
4 The Evening Standard1945
(2 items)
5 The Pittsberg PressApril 1945
(1 item)
Postcards1932-1956, undated
(5 items, 2 folders)
6 Organizational Postcardsundated
(3 items, 2 envelopes)
7 Personal Postcards1932, 1956
(2 items)
Doris Doscher Baum, H. William Baum and Family1918-1975, undated
Doris Doscher Baum1928, undated
(265 items, 15 folders)
9 Modeling 1928, undated
(43 items, 2 folders)
1 Libery Quarterundated
(8 items,6 envelopes)
2 Headshots and Poses1928, undated
(35 items,6 envelopes)
9-10 Photographs1938, undated
(129 items, 9 folders)
box folder
9 1 Actingundated
(21 items, 12 envelopes)
2 General Photographs of Doris Baum1938, undated
(14 items, 8 envelopes)
3 Stretching with Ballundated
(9 items, 5 envelopes)
4 Stretchingundated
(27 items, 15 envelopes)
box folder
10 5 Stretching in Forestundated
(13 items, 7 envelopes)
6 Facial Stretchingundated
(9 items, 5 envelopes)
7 Swimming Exercise Series on Beach, #3-38undated
(20 items, 10 envelopes)
8 General Swimming Exercisesundated
(3 items,2 envelopes)
9 Wrestlingundated
(13 items, 7 envelopes)
Publications (contains photographs)1921-1922
(63 items, 3 folders)
1-2 Exercise Articles and PhotographsJuly 1921-Oct. 1921
(61 items, 27 envelopes)
3 Published Articles1922
(2 items)
Scrapbook1918, undated
(32 items, 1 folder)
1 Acting Photographs1918, undated
(32 items, 16 envelopes)
H. William Baum1974, undated
(17 items, 2 folders)
11 Correspondence1974-1975, undated
(5 items, 1 folder)
1 Sent by D.V. Gokhale1974-1975
(5 items)
(12 items, 1 folder)
1 Personal and General Photographs of H. William Baumundated
(3 items, 7 envelopes)
Family Papers and Photographs1935-1954, undated
(164 items, 6 folders)
11 Ephemera1935-1941, undated
(6 items, 1 folder)
1 General Family1935-1941, undated
(6 items)
Photographs1935-1954, undated
(82 items, 4 folders)
1 H. William and Doris Baum1954
(10 items, 6 envelopes)
2 Miriam Baum1935-1948, undated
(35 items, 18 envelopes)
3 General Family Photographs1938, undated
(32 items, 17 envelopes)
4 Oversized General Family Photographsundated
(5 items, 5 envelopes)
Scrapbook1932, undated
(76 items, 1 folder)
1 Family Scrapbook1932, undated
(76 items, 38 envelopes)
Bernarr Macfadden and Family1923-1952, undated
Bernarr Macfadden1923-1952, undated
(108 items, 2 folders)
12 Photographs1943-1952, undated
(31 items, 1 folder)
1 Bernarr Macfadden1943-1952, undated
(31 items, 16 envelopes)
Scrapbook1923, undated
(77 items, 1 folder)
1 Scrapbook Photographs1923, undated
(77 items, 41 envelopes)

Unidentified1953, undated

12 Photographs1953, undated
(50 items, 1 folder)
1 General Photographs1953, undated
(50 items, 27 envelopes)