Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lucy Hobbs Taylor

Born this day in 1833: Lucy Hobbs Taylor (1833–1910), first woman dentist in the United States

Taylor was born Lucy Beaman Hobbs in western New York state. After graduating from a New York boarding academy, she taught school in Brooklyn, Michigan, and began informally studying medicine with a local physician. She then moved to  Ohio in order to pursue a degree in medicine at Ohio’s Eclectic College of Medicine. The school, however, refused to admit her because—say it with me, people—she was a woman. Instead, she studied privately under one of the school’s professors. After settling on a career in dentistry she then studied dentistry privately under the dean of Ohio College of Dental Surgery (because the school blah blah and so on) and apprenticed herself to one of the school’s graduates.

Taylor opened her own practice in 1861  (at that time medical degrees were not required to practice dentistry). In 1865 she was elected to membership in the Iowa State Dental Society and was a delegate to the American Dental Association that same year. The Ohio College of Dental Surgery finally admitted her later that year and she graduated a few months later. She went on to teach her husband how to be a dentist, and together they operated a popular practice in Lawrence, Kansas. Taylor is also remembered for being supporter of women’s rights and for her work with numerous charitable organizations.

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