My great-uncle Dr. Russell Evans, a general dentist who graduated from Marquette University School of Dentistry in 1919, died when I was in grade school and I only have a vague recollection of accompanying my mother to visit his office as he was retiring. When I was in college, I was fortunate to have inherited some of his basic sciences textbooks from my great-aunt. They now sit above my desk and serve to remind me of how incomplete and ever-changing our knowledge of the human body and the world around us really is.
The pictured signature and the date prompted me to learn more about my great-uncle’s dental school experiences. With the help of Marquette University School of Dentistry Director of Continuing Education & Alumni Relations Carol Trecek and Research Analyst in University Advancement Bill O’Brien, I was able to learn a bit about life as a dental student a century ago and appreciate how far we have come since then. Following are some random facts. The quotes are all taken from the Marquette University Bulletin February 1919.
- In 1919, the dental school was located at 9th Street and Wells Street in what was then Trinity Hospital. It would have been north of the Milwaukee Public Library.
- In referring to the operative clinic, “each chair is facing a window and each student operator has the best possible light.”
- Not only was it important enough to mention that there was a toilet off of the anatomy labs, but that it had, “both hot and cold water.”
- “A candidate may be admitted to this school without examination upon presenting, prior to enrollment, a diploma of graduation from a high school or academy…”
- A student could be conditionally accepted without a high school diploma, “if deemed advisable by the Dean and faculty.”
- The class of 1919 was considered “coeducational.” There were 133 men and 4 women.
Tuition and Fees:
- Freshman and senior tuition was $80 per semester. Sophomore and junior tuition was $85 per semester. Freshmen paid a $10 matriculation fee. Seniors paid a $15 graduation fee.
- The required books amounted to $83.30 with the most expensive being Operative Dentistry (vol. 1 and 2) by G. V. Black at a cost of $10. Other books could be borrowed from the dental school’s library with a 50 cent deposit.
- An academic year was 32 weeks with classes and clinic held six days a week.
- In addition to the expected clinical and basic sciences, the dental students were required to take English (focusing on composition and rhetoric), Public Speaking, Economics (business practices), Technical Drawing and Metallurgy.
- Clinical Dentistry included training for “extractions both with and without anaesthetics” with oral surgery performed “in the surgical amphitheatre” for training purposes.
- Clinical procedures were all accomplished in the “infirmary.”
- “Radiographs…will be taken when the conditions warrant.”
- Candidates for graduation “must be twenty-one years of age, and must possess a good moral character.”
This blog post originally appeared as the Editor’s Message in the May/June 2018 WDA Journal issue.