New York College of Dentistry
New York, New York
The 1926 Dental Violet contains a history of NYCD up to the merger with New York University. The logo (right) is from the 1910 Odontologist, digitized by Google.
The fifth dental college in the United States, New York College of Dentistry opened on November 5, 1866 for thirty-one male students, taught by a faculty of ten. Nine graduated from the program the following spring.
Initially the program was two years of five months each with one year of practice in the infirmary, doing dental work for the “worthy poor.” In 1892 the dental program was extended to three years and in 1918 to four years. In 1895 the school year was extended from five months to 7 1/2 months and in 1905 to eight months. Admission requirements likewise increased. By 1894 a recognized high school diploma was required; in 1921 a year of high school physics and a year of college-level liberal arts were required. And as dentistry became to be seen as a “specialty of medicine,” the curriculum came to include “the fundamental departments of medicine with operative dental surgery and oral prosthetics.”
Given its location, N.Y.C.D. attracted a large number of foreign-born and first generation students. The school accepted a female student in 1871—Countess Swiderska of St. Petersburg, Russia. Dean Frank Abbott said that while the Countess showed “amazing application and aptitude,” there was no “combatting her restless energy.” She demanded too much faculty time, and so they determined that they would never accept another female student. Even in 1925-26, the merged New York University College of Dentistry had only four women among its student body.
Newspapers show few extracurricular activities. By 1886 a Students’ Society had been formed. The Psi Omega dental fraternity was chartered in 1892, the first of the thirteen fraternities organized before the merger. The Dental Violet shows that at some point each class had begun to sponsor a prom.
The 1921 law by the New York State Legislature essentially required that the professional schools become associated with a university. This led to the New York School of Dentistry becoming the New York University School of Dentistry. As such it remains today.
Bricks and Mortar
The first home of New York College of Dentistry was the YMCA Building at 5th Avenue and 22nd Street. In 1891 increased enrollment forced a moved to a newly erected, six-story building at 205-207 East 23rd Street. The second floor contained trustees’ offices, the students’ reading room, and the examination room for patients. The dean’s office, faculty offices, and a 450-seat ampitheatre were on the third floor. Measuring 60 by 46 feet, the amphitheatre extended through the fourth floor. Laboratories for chemistry, pathology, histology and bacteriology were on the fourth floor. The fifth floor contained infirmary laboratories; the operating room took up the top floor. The ground floor was let out as shops.
In 1918 N.Y.C.D. was able to purchase the adjoining Manhattan Trade School for Girls Building at 209-213 East 23rd Street, giving space for “enlarged activities.” This was the complex at the time of the merger.
That building is still in use, as home to the Museum of Visual Arts.
Google image of 205-213 East 23rd Street. The Manhattan Trades School for Girls portion is to the right. https://www.google.com/maps/place/205+E+23rd+St,+New+York,+NY
School Colors: The seal above suggests Dark Blue and Gold
The Albuquerque Morning Democrat reported on March 24, 1896 that the New York College of Dentistry “will have a foot ball team in the field hereafter.” The note observed that the football field “has not been regarded as the proper place to study the art of painlessly extracting a tooth.” In what may have been their only football effort, the Dentals had lost to City College of New York 36-0 in a game played in Central Park on November 15, 1890.
That same year the Daily Tribune reported that the Dentals had lost indoor baseball games to the 3rd Regiment team by scores of 11-1 and 29-12.
There is a possibility that the College of Dentistry fielded a basketball team. The Sun reported a 30-10 victory over Stuyvesant on December 10, 1914, though the Violet Dental says that the 1925-26 team was the school's first.
New York shortstop Jack Knight enrolled at N.Y.C.D. after the 1911 season. The Bridgeport Evening Farmer reported in 1912 that Knight "studied and worked night and day, and as a result wore himself out." He left the majors in 1913.
Jack Knight baseball card. File:John Knight baseball.jpg