Happy Holidays (and 2015 Winter Closure)

This Holiday Season we would like to thank all of you are dear readers and supporters!
With your help we were able to acquire numerous collection, design and install 4 new exhibits, organize three archives lectures, answer hundreds of reference questions, catalog, process and digitize dozens of collections!

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area please visit the “Windows on Science” exhibit at Exploratorium’s Living Systems Gallery  – this exhibit highlights UCSF’s leadership in health science research and education and a long history of collaboration between the Exploratorium and UCSF.

UCSF exhibit at the Exploratorium. Photographer, Mark Citret.

UCSF exhibit at the Exploratorium. Photographer, Mark Citret.

Researchers at UCSF use the model species and organisms on display in the Exploratorium’s Living Systems Gallery.  While the Exploratorium exhibits these species and organisms to teach visitors about science, UCSF researchers use them to conduct experiments that can change our lives.

Four exhibit areas in the Living Systems Gallery at the Exploratorium have been identified around four model species and organisms: stem cells, zebra fish, c.elegans/round worms, and microscopes. The UCSF exhibit builds on the “Lessons from the Lab” exhibit in the Cell Gallery, which exhibits live organisms and discuss what scientists have learned from them. This exhibit fills in some of the details: describing what UCSF scientists have learned from each organism and what types of experiments are conducted. The list of featured UCSF-affilicated researcher includes:  Nadav Ahituv Lab, Bruce Conklin, Cynthia Kenyon, Shinya Yamanaka, Ron Vale Lab. Artifacts from the UCSF archives that relate to the research being exhibited are also on display.

UCSF exhibit at the Exploratorium. Photographer, Mark Citret.

UCSF exhibit at the Exploratorium. Photographer, Mark Citret.

The Archives and Special Collections will be closed from Wednesday, December 23, 2015 through Sunday, January 3rd, 2016. We will reopen on Monday, January 4th.

The Archives team wishes you all a Happy New Year!

Dental Department Buried Treasure

Last week we looked at the Dental Department “Earthquake Class” of 1906. This week we have another unique dentistry story. It involves feuding faculty, buried treasure, and a surprise discovery!

The Dental Department / College of Dentistry of the University of California was established in 1881. San Francisco practitioner Samuel W. Dennis, MD, DDS, was instrumental in its founding; he gathered support from Medical Department faculty, corresponded with other dental programs in the country to create a curriculum, and recruited dental instructors. He served as the first dean of the school from 1881-1882 and was later reappointed, serving from 1883-1885.

Samuel W. Dennis

Samuel W. Dennis

Disagreements concerning curriculum and the school’s administration quickly developed between Dennis and his fellow dental faculty members. Tensions continued to mount for the next fifteen years until a disgruntled Dennis left the college in 1896.

First faculty of the Dental Department, 1882. AR 2015-4 SOD records

First faculty of the Dental Department, 1882. AR 2015-4 SOD records, box 1

When Dennis left, he took with him a number of the school’s early records, including receipts, announcements, lecture notes, and examples of course requirements and examinations. Apparently, he then buried the material in a lead box under a grove of eucalyptus trees in South San Francisco. When Dennis died in 1906 (some accounts say 1907) he had never revealed the exact location of the records.

From the "Treasure Chest" contents: Anatomy test, 1891. AR 2015-4 SOD records, box 1

From the “Treasure Chest” contents: Anatomy test, 1891. AR 2015-4 SOD records, box 1

In 1929, as workers were excavating an area on which the Bayshore Highway was to be constructed, they uncovered a heavy box. Inside they found old documents labeled “Dental Department of the University of California.” Luckily, one of the workers recognized the potential value of the discovery and returned the material to the university. Dean Guy S. Millberry began investigating the papers and came to the conclusion that they had to be the missing Dennis material.

From the "Treasure Chest" contents: Freshman student course requirements, undated

From the “Treasure Chest” contents: Freshman student course requirements, undated. AR 2015-4 SOD records, box 1

The box came to be known as the “Treasure Chest.” Today, the box and its surviving contents are housed in the UCSF Archives and Special Collections as part of the School of Dentistry records, AR 2015-4.

– Sources for this post include a 1997 School of Dentistry history booklet titled “The Early Days,” published by the University of California. The booklet is available to researchers in the School of Dentistry records, AR 2015-4.

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.