Lucy Beaman Hobbs Taylor (1833-1910)
DDS 1866 Ohio College of Dental Surgery
First Woman DDS
In 1866, Lucy Hobbs was the first woman to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Her success encouraged other women to enter dental colleges, but her own path to that degree was long and hard. She was determined “to enter a profession where she could earn her bread not alone by the sweat of her brow, but by the use of her brains also.”
From Medicine to Dentistry
While teaching in Brooklyn, Michigan, Hobbs boarded with a physician who sparked her interest in medicine. With his encouragement, Hobbs moved to Cincinnati to enroll in the Eclectic Medical College. The college refused her entrance and suggested she try dentistry instead.
Going Out on a Limb
Jonathan Taft, Dean of the Ohio College of Dental Surgery welcomed Hobbs in his office until another dentist agreed to teach her. After the Ohio faculty refused to admit her in 1861, Hobbs opened her own office, a common practice at the time as very few dentists had degrees. She then started a practice in Iowa, becoming profitable within three years and earning an excellent reputation.
At its 1865 meeting, the Iowa State Dental Society admitted Hobbs to its membership stating, “The profession has nothing in its pursuits foreign to the instincts of women.” Even further, the Society influenced the Ohio College of Dental Surgery to admit Hobbs as a student. In recognition of her years of practice, the College only required her to attend one session, and she graduated in 1866.
Her Turn to Mentor
Hobbs opened a practice in Chicago where she married Civil War veteran and railroad car painter James M. Taylor. Hobbs taught her husband dentistry and together they established a successful practice in Lawrence, Kansas. After his death in 1886, she campaigned for women’s rights and practiced intermittently until her own death in 1910.
Lucy H.T. Lab Coat
Such is the stature of Lucy Hobbs Taylor that Medelita, a manufacturer of scrubs and lab coats, designed and named this modern lab coat in honor of Taylor as a “tribute to this amazing, prestigious, and accomplished woman.”