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Northwestern University Dental School

Evanston, Illinois



Both and e-yearbooks have digital copies of the 1901 Purple and Gold on line.  Both Hathitrust and Internet Archive have various early catalogs.  The Northwestern University website shows highlights of the school history.  Chicago attorney Joshua Kreitzer provided an update on the school's location.


University Dental College was chartered in 1887, opening that fall with six students.  Through an agreement among Northwestern University, Chicago Medical College, and University Dental College, the U.D.C. students were allowed to attend lectures at the other schools.   At a time when most dental programs were two years, U.D.C. required three years, a policy which depressed enrollment.  By 1891 with enrollment at 19, U.D.C. closed for lack of funds.


However that fall, Northwestern University, wishing to become more closely aligned with professional programs, added a reorganized U.D.C. under the new name of Northwestern University Dental School.  Now that a three-year program was mandated by the National Association of Dental Faculties, enrollment reached 128 by 1895.


Another  reorganization occurred in 1895-96 through a merger with the American College of Dental Surgery.  By terms of the merger, A.C.D.S.  president, Dr. Theodore Menges, assumed the management of the  school, now located on his campus.   Two years later, a third dental school, Northwestern College of Dental Surgery, was added to the merger. With the death of Dr.Menges in 1900, control of the school passed entirely to Northwestern University.    


The 1901 Purple and Gold shows a student body of  484, with 190 graduates.  These were taught by a faculty of 14 professors and 24 instructors/demonstrators.  Students were largely from the upper Midwest.  More than half of the graduates were from the Illinois-Iowa-Wisconsin triangle, with Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan, and Indiana heavily represented.   There were five female graduates.


N.U.D.S. sponsored a band, a glee club and three different quartets.  In addition to religious and cultural programs, the Y.M.C.A. assisted new students with housing and course materials,  N.U.D.S. had chapters of three dental fraternities as well as one sorority.


Throughout the Twentieth Century, Northwestern University Dental School grew to become one of the top five dental schools in the nation.  But by the end of the century, rising costs caused many private universities to drop their dental departments.  Over the protests of  the students enrolled, Northwestern University closed its dental school  in 2001.   

Bricks and Mortar

The original classes were held at a building on 26th Street near the Chicago Medical College.  When the school reorganized in 1890,  it moved  a few blocks to 22nd Street but soon joined the Chicago Medical College in a new building at 2431 Dearborn Street.  In 1896 when N.U.D.S. merged with American College of Dental Surgery, it began to occupy the A.C.D.S. campus on the corner of Franklin and Madison Streets. 


Once all control passed to Northwestern University, it purchased the Tremont Hotel at the corner of Madison and Lake Streets.  This building became home to three of Northwestern University professional schools--dentistry, law and pharmacy.  The dental school occupied the upper three floors of the six-story building.  Called the Northwestern Building, it has since been razed.

Kreitzer adds, "In the 1920 the Dental School moved to Northwestern's then-new Chicago campus in the Streeterville neighborhood."  It remained there until it closed.

Tremont House/Northwestern Building (<>)accessed 2-14-2017


        School Colors: Purple and Gold


The Dental School proudly operated its own sports programs--especially football-- separate from those of Northwestern University.  College football Data Warehouse shows a few games from 1896 through 1906.  The highlight of the season was the annual game against Chicago Dental College, played for the Brophy Cup.  With a team composed of "old veterans of the gridiron from all over the country," N.U.D.S. also took on the "scrubs" of Northwestern University and Chicago University, as well as Rush Medical College and the Crown Point Athletic Club. 


Purple and Gold notes that the school calendar worked against spring sports.  But it mentions the individual accomplishments of N.U.D.S. students in rowing and cycling.

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