Lucy Hobbs Taylor, born today in 1833, was the first American woman to earn a degree in dentistry.
She was denied admission to the Ohio College of Dental Surgery due to her sex, but began studying privately under the tutelage of its dean, Dr. Jonathan Taft, and later apprenticed herself to a licensed graduate before opening her own practice in the spring of 1861 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Later she moved her practice to Iowa where, in July 1865, she was elected to membership in the Iowa State Dental Society and sent as a delegate to the American Dental Association convention in Chicago. Finally, in November 1865 she was admitted to the Ohio College of Dental Surgery where, after receiving credit for her years of professional practice, she graduated in February 1866, thus becoming the first woman in the U.S. to receive her doctorate in dentistry.
Later Lucy would be quoted as saying, “People were amazed when they learned that a young girl had so far forgotten her womanhood as to want to study dentistry.”
Lucy died in 1910 but her skill and dedication to the field of dentistry has not been forgotten. In 1983, the American Association of Women Dentists honored her by establishing the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award, which it presents annually to members in recognition of professional excellence and achievements in advancing the role of women in dentistry.