Lucy Hobbs Taylor, the first female dentist.
Today it is not uncommon to have a female dentist, but as with many professional careers this was not the case a century ago. Lucy Hobbs Taylor paved the way for future generations of female dentists; she may have graduated from dental school in 1866, but her legacy lives on today.
Lucy was born in Constable, New York on March 14th, 1833. Her first career was in teaching, which she did for ten years. In 1859 she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to pursue dentistry. The dental school refused to admit her to the program, but a professor at the Ohio College of Dental Surgery worked with her through a private program of study. After completing her studies, she opened her own dental practice in 1861. It was not until 1865 that she gained professional recognition as a member of the Iowa State Dental Society. The next year she was the first woman to earn her doctorate in dentistry.
After all of her professional success, Lucy married James M. Taylor in 1867. This was not a case of becoming a housewife after marriage–Lucy even convinced her husband to also become a dentist. They worked together until Taylor’s death. At that time, Lucy retired from her dental practice to be active in women's rights.
In the years after Lucy entered dentistry many other women followed her footsteps. By 1900 almost 1000 other American women had entered the dental field. The American Association of Women Dentists honors Lucy with an award to recognize excellence and achievements of women in dentistry. Women are also using their voices for change in the dentistry profession. The Lucy Hobbs Project aims to pave the way for women’s success in dentistry.
It is clear that Lucy Hobbs was passionate about her career in dentistry because she overcame many obstacles to reach her goals. She is remembered today for becoming the first American woman dentist, and a respected advocate for women's rights. Since Lucy’s time, dentistry has become a popular career for women, with over 47,000 American women working as licensed dentists today.