February is Black History Month, and Adventure Dental and Orthodontics is celebrating it by honoring Ida Gray Nelson Rollins, DDS. This incredible woman was a woman of firsts!
Ida Gray Nelson Rollins, DDS was the first African American woman to:
- Graduate from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry
- Earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree
- Practice dentistry in Chicago
Despite her achievements, not many people know much about Ida, so we think it is fitting to get to know a little bit about her here.
Who Was Ida Gray Nelson Rollins?
Ida was born on March 4th, 1867 in Clarkesville, Tennessee, only a few short years after the end of the Civil War. She became an orphan after her mother passed away before living with her aunt. Later in life, Ida began to work for a practice owned by Jonathan Taft, one of the cofounders of American Dental Association (ADA).
After graduating high school in 1887, Ida had already found her calling and desire to become her dentist. The three years she spent working with Taft’s dental office gave her strong knowledge about dentistry. She was able to easily pass the entrance exam for the Dental College of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Her reputation bloomed quickly at the college due to her high marks and outstanding work.
Upon graduating with her DDS in 1890, Ida — now officially Ida Gray Nelson Rollins, DDS — opened her private dental practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. Five years later, she would move to Chicago and become the first African American — male or female — to practice dentistry within the Windy City. For decades, she practiced and refined her abilities as a dentist until she retired in the 1930s, likely around 1935. After enjoying years of retirement, Ida passed away in 1953 at the age of 86.
From all of us at Adventure Dental and Orthodontics, we thank and honor you, Ida, for being a trailblazer! By opening an all-inclusive dentistry clinic that helped patients of all races and walks of life, you helped show a struggling world a sense of togetherness and compassion.
Would you like to schedule a dentistry appointment with Adventure Dental and Orthodontics? Call our Santa Clarita pediatric dentistry office at (661) 251-0200 to learn about our services, including orthodontics. You can also use an online contact form if you prefer.