School of Dentistry (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

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School of Dentistry (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

The materials in this Deep Blue collection represent part of a larger record group for the School of Dentistry held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index of the record group, please consult the following online finding aids:

Related materials in the University of Michigan Web Archives may also be of interest to researchers:

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

The School of Dentistry is a teaching and research unit of the University of Michigan that was founded by the Regents in 1875. Content in this digital repository currently consists of archived versions of the School of Dentistry website, which provide information its academics, degree requirements, events, policies, and people.

The College of Dental Surgery at the University of Michigan was founded by the Regents in 1875. The practicing dentists of the state were instrumental in its creation. They had originally petitioned the Regents in 1866 for the establishment of a chair of dentistry. When that petition failed to win regental approval, dentists submitted another petition in 1873. The Regents expressed a willingness to approve this second request, but claimed lack of funds made action impossible. The dentists then turned to the state legislature where they were successful in obtaining a special appropriation for the purpose of teaching dentistry at the university.

Originally dentistry was taught by two professors. They, and those subsequently appointed to the faculty, developed a college noted for the adeptness of its graduates in technical and operative areas. Throughout the nineteenth century the college’s focus was primarily on technique, but at the beginning of the twentieth century research began to assume an important position in the college’s activities. The first major project was undertaken by Marcus Ward, who in 1903 began a study of the properties of dental amalgams used as filling material. Research was also carried on in areas of surgical procedures, with particular success in the area of restoration. Eventually, research became a common activity among the faculty.

Throughout the twentieth century the nature of the student body and the character of the subjects taught developed and changed. In 1921 dental hygiene was first taught, largely to women who would go on to become dental assistants and technicians. By 1927, when the college was renamed the School of Dentistry, the need for both continuing education for practicing dentists and for post-graduate educational opportunities for students had been recognized and was being acted upon. The W. K. Kellogg foundation was particularly instrumental during the 1930s and 1940s in making funds and space available for these two activities.

Space was a continuing problem for the school. When it was founded, the school was placed in a university-owned house, originally used as a faculty residence. In 1877 the school was relocate into a larger building, another university-owned house originally used by a faculty member. In 1891 the school inherited the old university Hospital. During 1908 and 1909 a special building was erected for the Dental School, on North University Avenue. This building was enlarged in 1923. In 1939-1940, with funds supplied by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Works Progress Administration, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Institute: Graduate and Postgraduate Dentistry Building was constructed. In 1969, as part of a major construction program initiated the year before, the 1908 structure was razed. It was replaced by a complex of buildings completed in 1971.

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Copyright held by the Regents of the University of Michigan

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