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.

1920’s Medical Crossword Puzzle Answers

No spoilers here. Click through to see the answers.

If you haven’t seen the crossword puzzles, yet, check out the previous post on the Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Alumnae Association collection.

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Recent Accession: Children’s Hospital, San Francisco Nursing School

We’ve recently acquired a collection from the Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Nurses’ Alumnae Association, MSS 2006-17. Let’s break that down.

Children's Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 45

Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 45, MSS 2006-17.

The California Pacific Medical Center’s historical timeline and UCSF History site prove quite useful for untangling this history. In 1875 the Pacific Dispensary for Women and Children was founded in San Francisco. It underwent a name change and became, more recognizably, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Under the leadership of the pioneering Dr. Charlotte Blake Brown (1846-1904) in 1882, the hospital began offering a two-year training program for nurses– the first official of its kind on the West Coast. And in 1887, it finds a new home at the intersection of California & Maple streets. At this point, “the two-story hospital has 25 private rooms, open wards, a cow barn, chicken yard, and laundry. Total cost, with furniture and equipment: $26,000.” The University of California Medical School (that’s us– UCSF!) begins partnering with Children’s Hospital in 1915 to teach medical students.

Group of nursing students, MSS 2006-17

Group of nursing students, circa 1925, MSS 2006-17.

Which brings us just to about the time period of this collection. Donated by the granddaughter of Ruth Steuben, an alumna of the Children’s Hospital Training School for Nurses, the material covers the education of Steuben, roughly 1925-1929, and includes class notes, yearbooks, photographs, and a uniform apron. Digital copies of Steuben’s school records as well as photographs and letters from the mothers of children nursed by Steuben soon after her graduation are also included. Below, a photograph of Ruth with her graduating class, December 1927, from the Little Jim yearbook.

Class of December 1927, including Ruth Steuben. Children's Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1926, page 22, MSS 2006-17.

Class of December 1927, including Ruth Steuben. Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1926, page 22, MSS 2006-17.

And a photograph of many of the same students at a nursing school reunion event in May 1948.

Reunion of nursing school graduates, May 1948, MSS 2006-17.

Reunion of nursing school graduates, May 1948, MSS 2006-17.

And now, for your further enjoyment: crossword puzzles! The 1948 Little Jim yearbook includes not one, but two crossword puzzles. The first was created by Adelaide Brown, M.D. (1868-1933) who was the daughter of Dr. Charlotte Blake Brown– both were longtime activists for women and children’s health.

Crossword puzzle by Adelaide Brown, M.D. Children's Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 48, MSS 2006-17.

Crossword puzzle by Adelaide Brown, M.D. Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 48, MSS 2006-17.

Crossword puzzle.  Children's Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 50, MSS 2006-17.

Crossword puzzle. Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 50, MSS 2006-17.

Please see our other collections regarding the Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Nursing School Alumnae Association, MSS 89-20 and MSS 91-101. Read more about Dr. Charlotte Blake Brown in this fascinating article, The San Francisco Experiment: Female Medical Practitioners Caring for Women and Children, 1875-1932, by Meredith Eliassen and published online in Gender Forum.