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Lucy B. Hobbs Taylor D.D.S.

HOBBS, TAYLOR

Posted By: Volunteer contributor
Date: 11/7/2011 at 08:11:41

This information was sent via email with the following note: "Maybe you have a place for this information about Lucy Hobbs, who became the 1st woman dentist. I copied it down thinking that I might one day connect her to my Hobbs family in upstate NY. I never did, but hate to throw the information away."
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Lucy B. Hobbs Taylor D.D.S.

March 14, 1833 - October 3, 1910

Miss Lucy B. Hobbs of New York was the first woman that ever graduated in the profession of dentistry. She matriculated in the Cincinnati Dental College in the fall of 1864—passing through a full course of study, missing but two lectures, and those at the request of the professor of anatomy. She graduated from that institution in February, 1866. A letter from the dean of the college testifies to her worth as follows:

"She was a woman of great energy and perseverance. Studious in her habits, modest and unassuming, she had the respect and kind regard of every member of the class and faculty. As an operator she was not surpassed by her associates. Her opinion was asked and her assistance sought in difficult cases almost daily by her fellow-students. And though the class of which she was a member was one of the largest ever in attendance, it excelled all previous ones in good order and decorum — a condition largely due to the presence of a lady. In the final examination she was second to none."

Having received her diploma, she opened an office in Iowa; from thence she removed to Chicago, and practiced successfully. The following letter from Mrs. Taylor (formerly Miss Hobbs) gives further interesting details. Writing to Matilda Joslyn Gage, she says:

"I am grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to place in history the fact of my study of dentistry. I was born in Franklin county, New York, in 1833. You ask my reason for entering the profession. It was to be independent. I first studied medicine, but did not like the practice. My preceptor, Professor Cleveland, advised me to try dentistry, and I commenced with Dr. Samuel Warde of Cincinnati, finishing my studies in March, 1861. At that time the faculty of the Ohio Dental College would not permit me to attend, and there was not a college in the United States that would admit me, and no amount of persuasion could change their minds. So far as I know, I was the first woman who had ever taken instruction of a private tutor. I went to Iowa to commence practice, and was so successful that the dentists of the State insisted I should be allowed to attend the college. Their efforts prevailed, and I graduated from the Ohio Dental College at Cincinnati in the spring of 1866—the first woman in the world to take a diploma from a dental college. I am a New-Yorker by birth, but I love my adopted country—the West. To it belongs the credit of making it possible for women to be recognized in the dental profession on equal terms with men." (401)

The first lady, Miss Lucy B. Hobbs, to graduate in dentistry, was sent out from the Cincinnati College, and she, I believe, is still in active practice in Kansas. She graduated in 1866. (455)

~History of Woman Suffrage, 1876-1885; copyright 1886, by Susan B. Anthony; pgs 401, 455

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WOMEN IN DENTISTRY

Through the kindness of Miss Susan B. Anthony, we are privileged to place before our readers the following hitherto unpublished matter from the forthcoming volume (III) of the " History of Woman Suffrage," edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage, and which will soon issue from the book publishing house of Charles Mann, of this city:

Miss Lucy B. Hobbs, of New York, was the first woman that ever graduated in the profession of dentistry. She matriculated in the Cincinnati Dental College in the fall of 1864—passing through a full course of study, missing but two lectures, and those at the request of the professor of anatomy. She graduated from that institution in February, 1866. A letter from the dean of the college testifies to her worth as follows:

She was a woman of great energy and perseverance. Studious in her habits, modest and unassuming, she had the respect and kind regard of every member of the class and faculty. As an operator she was not surpassed by her associates. Her opinion was asked and her assistance sought in difficult cases almost daily by her fellow-students. And though the class of which she was a member was one of the largest ever in attendance, it excelled all previous ones in good order and decorum—a condition largely due to the presence of a lady. In the final examination she was second to none.

Having received her diploma, she opened an office in Iowa; from thence she removed to Chicago, and practiced successfully. The following letter from Mrs. Taylor (formerly Miss Hobbs) gives further interesting details. Writing to Matilda Joslyn Gage, she says:

I am grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to place in history the fact of my study of dentistry. I was born in Franklin county, New York, in 1833. You ask my reason for entering the profession. It was to be independent. I first studied medicine, but did not like the practice. My preceptor, Professor Cleveland, advised me to try dentistry, and I commenced with Dr. Samuel Warde, of Cincinnati, finishing my studies in March, 1861. At that time the faculty of the Ohio Dental College would not permit me to attend, and there was not a college in the United States that would admit me, and no amount of persuasion could change their minds. So far as I know, I was the first, woman who had ever taken instruction of a private tutor.

I went to Iowa to commence practice, and was so successful that the dentists of the state insisted I should be allowed to attend the college. Their efforts prevailed, and I graduated from the Ohio Dental College at Cincinnati in the spring of 1866—the first woman in the world to take a diploma from a dental college. I am a New Yorker by birth, but I love my adopted country—the West. To it belongs the credit of making it possible for women to be recognized in the dental profession on equal terms with men. Should you wish any further proof, write to Dr. Watt, who was professor of chemistry at the time I graduated, and I know he will take pleasure in giving you any additional information.

~The Odontographic Journal, Vol VII, April, 1886; pg 39-40
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The fifth meeting, at Dubuque, was quite a notable one*. It was at this meeting that Lucy B. Hobbs, then of McGregor, Iowa, the first lady in the world to take up dentistry, was elected a member. The society unanimously adopted the following resolution, offered by Dr. L. C. Ingersoll:

'' Whereas, The Iowa State Dental Society has, without a precedent, elected to membership a lady practitioner of dentistry, and,

"Whereas, It is due to the profession at large that we make a formal declaration concerning the position we have assumed in our action, therefore,

"Resolved, That we cordially welcome Miss Lucy B. Hobbs, of McGregor, to our membership and to our professional pursuits, trials, aims and successes.

"Resolved, That the profession of dentistry, involving as it does, the vital interests of humanity in the relief of human suffering and the perpetuation of the comforts and enjoyments of life in civilized and refined society, has nothing in its pursuit foreign to the instincts of women but, on the other hand, presents on almost every application for operations, a subject requiring a kind and benevolent consideration of the most refined womanly nature."

The Iowa State Dental Society, therefore, has the honor of having received into its membership the first lady dentist, not only of Iowa, but in the world. She was practicing at McGregor without a license, which was the rule rather than the exception at that time, but she was not satisfied. The story of her life, written by herself, is extremely interesting. She was a poor girl in Cincinnati, without a home. What brought about the desire to study dentistry, I have been unable to learn, but she went from office to office in Cincinnati, trying to get some one to take her in as a student, but such a thing as having a girl to study dentistry could not be thought of. The colleges would not receive a lady as a student. Finally Dr. Wardel took her into his office as a student. She made her living at nights by the use of her needle. After her pupilage with Dr. Wardel, she opened an office in Cincinnati but did not succeed. By the assistance of some friends, she came to McGregor, Iowa. From the story of her life, we read as follows: "The Iowa State Dental Association was composed of grand, just men." Through their president, Dr. L. C. Ingersoll, they sent her an invitation to attend their state convention. It was with many misgivings that the best frock was donned, the office closed and the invitation accepted, but one grasp of the hand of the president dispelled all alarm. Professional recognition after six years' struggle was a balm to many old wounds. The by:laws were changed to meet the case and a woman dentist was made a member of the association. Then the battle commenced in earnest. The woman dentist with her well-filled purse and the state of Iowa back of her was a different person from the penniless girl with an overwhelming ambition to do "men's work." At the next meeting in Burlington she was elected a delegate to the American Dental Convention to be held in Chicago. Of this meeting she says, there she met the professors from the different colleges. The Iowa dentists made a formal demand for her admission to colleges, supported by a threat to withdraw the influence of the state society from the ones that refused it. The Ohio Dental College, at Cincinnati, granted the request and she entered the same fall. Professor Taft, dean at that time, says of her: "She was a woman of great energy and perseverance, studious in her habits, modest and unassuming. As an operator, she was unsurpassed and her opinion was sought in different cases daily, by her fellow students, and while the class of which she was a member was one of the largest, it excelled all previous ones in good order and decorum, a condition largely due to the presence of a lady." Professor Watt, of the chair of chemistry wrote: "She was a credit to the profession and an honor to her alma mater. A better combination of perseverance and pluck is seldom, if ever, seen."

*The fifth meeting at Dubuque of the Iowa State Dental Society, took place in July 1865

~Iowa Dental Bulletin, Vol 8, June, 1922; The History of the Iowa State Dental Society; pg 7-8

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Dr. Hobbs Taylor practiced in Bellevue, Iowa and McGregor in the 1860's, before moving to Lawrence, Kansas where she practiced for over 30 years.

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Mrs. Lucy Hobbs Taylor of Lawrence, Kansas, who was the first woman dentist in the United States, died last week*. In fact, she claimed that she was the first woman in the world to graduate as a dentist, and the claim has never been disputed. She was graduated from a dental college in Cincinnati, in 1866. She had a large practice in Lawrence where she had lived for forty-five years.

~Waterloo Reporter, December 17, 1910
*Note: This was evidently a 'filler' in the newspaper, because Dr. Taylor died October 3, 1910.

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Burial:
Oak Hill Cemetery
Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas
Plot: Section 5

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After graduation, Lucy moved to Chicago and opened an office. She fell in love with one of her patients, a Civil War veteran named James M. Taylor. He had been a railroad car painter for the Northwestern Railroad, but after they were married in 1867 she began to teach her husband the art and science of dentistry. Seeking to escape the harsh Chicago winters, they moved to Lawrence, Kan., where they established the “finest and most lucrative practice in Kansas.”

In the early 1880s, they moved their practice to the building that is now 809 Vermont St. Lucy Hobbs Taylor was active in many fraternal groups and a participant in civic organizations and professional dental societies. Childless, she and her husband practiced dentistry together until his death in 1886. A year later she retired, continuing her civic activities and campaigning for women’s rights in the Republican Party.

Dr. Taylor was not happy in retirement, and in 1895 she moved her home and office back into 809 Vermont, continuing a limited practice until her death from a stroke in 1910. She is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence.

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Photo credit: Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 11, 1996 (added by the Clayton co. Coordinator)


 

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