Lucy Hobbs Taylor, DDS, was the first woman to earn a dental degree in North America.
Born in 1833, Lucy developed a passion for medicine in her 20s while working as a teacher. She was rejected by a medical school because of her gender and advised to try dentistry instead, but she faced multiple rejections there too.
Undaunted, she found a professor who would teach her privately and opened her own practice at age 28. It didn’t take long after that for her to be recognized by her male peers for her skill and gentle chair-side manner, and she was finally accepted into the Ohio College of Dental Surgery, from which she received her degree in 1866.
The next year, Lucy married James M. Taylor, a railcar painter and Civil War veteran. She combined her previous experience as a teacher with her hard-won dental expertise by training her husband to be a dentist too! Together, the couple established a successful practice in Lawrence, Kansas.
After James died, Lucy spent less time on dentistry and became active in politics, campaigning for issues like women’s suffrage. Her example inspired many more women to pursue careers in dentistry.
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
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