Dentistry “Earthquake Class” of 1906

On April 18, 1906, a massive earthquake struck San Francisco. UC facilities in the city sustained serious damage, including the destruction of the clinical teaching lab of the School of Dentistry (then called the College of Dentistry / Dental Department). As the college began to reestablish teaching activities following the disaster, dentistry faculty considered how best to manage the would-be graduating class of 1906.

College of Dentistry class of 1906. AR 2015-4 SOD records

College of Dentistry class of 1906. AR 2015-4 SOD records

Though further instruction immediately following the earthquake was not possible and many of the department’s student records were destroyed, the faculty ultimately decided to recommend the class of 1906 for graduation. As Dentistry Dean and Professor Guy S. Millberry noted in his key to the class photograph, the students “graduated after the Earthquake April 18 without examination.”

Guy Millberry key to the "earthquake class" photo, 1906. AR 2015-4 SOD records

Guy Millberry key to the 1906 “earthquake class” photo. AR 2015-4 SOD records

Look closely at the class photograph above and you’ll notice a surprising detail: a skull in the second row (click on the image to enlarge). Millberry even includes a sketch of the skull in his key, noting its identity is unknown.

Click here to learn more about how the Affiliated Colleges (later UCSF) responded to the earthquake. The School of Dentistry records, AR 2015-4, include a number of early dentistry photographs and historical documents. Please contact us if you would like to view the material.

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