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Archive for Tuesday, April 20, 1993

S FIRST WOMAN DENTIST, ACCEPTANCE WAS LIKE PULLING TEETH

April 20, 1993

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Lucy Hobbs Taylor, whose persistence won her a place in history as the first woman in the world with a doctor of dental surgery degree, moved to Lawrence in 1867, four years before the Kansas Dental Assn.'s first annual meeting.

The KDA will recognize Taylor's accomplishments this week at its 122nd annual meeting at the Lawrence Holidome. This year's theme: "Women's contributions to dentistry in the past and future."

More than 250 Kansas dentists have signed up to attend the sessions, which begin Thursday and end Saturday.

The Kansas Dental Hygienists and Dental Assistants associations, also meeting this week in Lawrence, will conduct sessions at the Quality Inn.

Lawrence dramatist Kay Kuhlmann will present a portrayal of Taylor's life and times, titled "The Woman Who Pulled Teeth," Friday evening.

Geraldine Morrow, immediate past president of the American Dental Assn. and the only woman to serve as the ADA's president, will speak Friday at a luncheon for women dentists.

Before the luncheon the women dentists will gather in front of Taylor's former office on Massachusetts Street for a group photo.

Taylor, born in Ellenburg, N.Y., in 1833, wanted a career in medicine but was advised to take up dentistry by the president of the Eclectic Medical College in Cincinnati, one of many medical colleges that refused to admit her because she was a woman.

She apprenticed with Cincinnati dentists and applied for admission to the Ohio Dental College but was rejected because of her gender.

Although Taylor wanted to earn a dentistry diploma, she was advised to open an office and begin treating patients, a common practice at that time.

When the Civil War paralyzed business in Cincinnati, a friend lent Taylor money so she could move to northern Iowa and set up a new practice. There, she became known as "the woman who pulls teeth."

The Iowa Dental Assn., recognizing her as a peer, appointed her a delegate to the American Dental Assn. and threatened a boycott if Taylor was again refused admittance to dental college.

Taylor earned her long-awaited dentistry degree from the Ohio Dental College in 1866 and moved to Chicago, where she met and married James Taylor, a Civil War veteran, in 1867. The couple moved to Lawrence and opened an office at Massachusetts and Henry streets. Henry, named for Patrick Henry, is now Eighth Street.

Although her husband died in the 1880s, Taylor practiced dentistry in Lawrence for many years. She died Oct. 3, 1910 and willed her dental college diploma to the Kansas State Historical Society.

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