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Lucy Hobbs Taylor

Portrait of Lucy B. Hobbs Taylor, 1860sFirst American woman to earn Degree of Doctor in Dental Surgery.  Born: March 14, 1833, Constable, N.Y.  Married: James M. Taylor, April 24, 1867, Chicago.  Died: October 3, 1910, Lawrence, Kan.

Lucy Beaman Hobbs was born March 14, 1833, in Constable, New York, the seventh of 10 children.  After moving to Michigan in 1849, she became a school teacher for 10 years, then moved to Ohio to pursue a dentistry degree. Because of her gender, Hobbs was denied admission to the Eclectic Medical College and the Ohio College of Dentistry in Cincinnati. A recent graduate of the latter, Dr. Samuel Wardle, agreed to tutor Hobbs in an apprenticeship in his new office. In 1861 she opened her own practice.

Hobbs moved her practice to northern Iowa in 1862, became a member of the Iowa State Dental Society, and served as a delegate to the American Dental Association  Convention of 1865. Partly because of the trust she had gained through her practice, and partly because of the school’s change in attitude toward admitting women, Hobbs was allowed to enroll as a senior at the Ohio College of Dentistry, the second dental school in the nation. In 1866 she became the first woman in the world to receive a doctorate in dentistry.

Hobbs again moved her practice, this time to Chicago, where she married Civil War veteran James Myrtle Taylor and began to teach him dentistry. The couple moved to Lawrence in 1867 and established a joint practice. The Taylors purchased an empty lot in Lawrence (now 809 Vermont) and built a combination office and residence.

Portrait of Lucy Hobbs Taylor, 1903Here they created one of the most successful dental practices in Kansas. Then they built a home on Ohio Street and moved their practice to a commercial building at 8th and Massachusetts streets. A year after her husband died in 1886, Taylor retired and devoted her time to charity and social causes, namely women’s rights.

Taylor repurchased the home and office building in 1895 and reopened her practice, which she operated until her death in 1910. The Lawrence Daily Journal wrote, “Dr. Lucy Taylor was one of the most striking figures in Lawrence, she occupied a position of honor and ability, for years she occupied a place high in the ranks of her profession. Dr. Taylor was a great charitable worker and did much good in a quiet, unobtrusive manner.”

Today the American Association of Women Dentists recognizes outstanding women in the dental profession with the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award, the most prestigious honor the organization bestows.

Entry: Taylor, Lucy Hobbs

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2010

Date Modified: January 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.