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School of Dentistry Records

Identifier: U026


This collection contains the records of The School of Dentistry at the University of Denver, which began holding classes in 1888. Operations and teaching were led by a group of local dentists and the school was one of the first to educate dental nurses. The school closed in 1932 after attempts to acquire state funding failed. The collection includes legal documents, newspaper clippings, and photos.


  • 1890-1979


Biographical / Historical

The School of Dentistry was created with a $500 grant from the Trustees of the University of Denver and an agreement by which a group of Denver, Colorado, dentists agreed to provide supervision and instruction in a dental department for the University. In the fall of 1888 the first classes were held in the Haish Building at 14th and Arapahoe Street.

The first course was five months in length, with the first class graduating in 1889. That course schedule was increased to three seven-month semesters in 1891, when the School became a member of the National Association of Dental Faculties. The entrance requirements were also strengthened to require a high school diploma or a first class teacher's certificate. To provide training for students the school advertised in local newspapers, offering dental work for cost from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

In 1896 the School of Dentistry took over the entire first floor of the Haish Building. At the same time a formal agreement was reached to divide the profits between the faculty of the School and the Trustees of the University of Denver. The University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, also attempted to start a dental school in the 1890s, locating it in Denver. The University of Denver protested its location in Denver, as opposed to Boulder, so the Colorado College of Dental Surgery was created by five individual dentists.

By the turn of the century, it was apparent that there was no need for two dental colleges, and on March 8, 1901 the Trustees of the University of Denver agreed to merge the two schools. The resulting Colorado College of Dental Surgery was considered to be the Dental Department of the University of Denver. Dr. L. S. Gilbert was the first Dean, but resigned in May 1901. His successor was Dr. W. T. Chambers, who served as Dean until 1914. The arrangement was similar to the old dental school in that the School was actually owned by the faculty members through a contract with the University of Denver.

In 1904 the three-year course was extended to four years, but was returned to three years in 1906 to retain students who wanted a shorter course of study. The college moved into new quarters in 1911, and added additional space in 1914. At that time the college introduced an eight-month course to train dental nurses, which was the first such program in the United States . By 1917 the program was again extended to four years, and in 1926 a five-year degree program was instituted. That remained the standard until the school closed in 1932.

Pressure was building in the medical and dental communities nation-wide to have more stringent controls over the training of medical and dental professionals. Proprietary schools, schools owned by practitioners, in particular were criticized. In 1918 the first ranking of dental school in the United States placed Colorado College of Dental Surgery in Class B. One of the ways to overcome the ratings and perceived shortcomings was to affiliate with the University. While the school had been tenuously associated with the University of Denver, on June 15, 1922, the University agreed to assume full responsibility for the school. The school, which had been profitable under the proprietors, was not a financial success since the University needed to expend considerable funds in an attempt to bring the school up to Class A ranking. An attempt was made to transfer the Dental Department to the University of Colorado in affiliation with the medical school. The stock collapse of 1929 and ensuing depression complicated that plan because the University of Colorado would not accept the school without the finances to be self-supporting. All attempts to finance the School of Dentistry through the State failed. The school continued until June 8, 1932, to allow students to complete their course work. During its existence, the Colorado College of Dental Surgery had graduated more than 1,000 dentists with accredited degrees.


3.16 Linear Feet (5 containers)

Scope and Contents

The records of the School of Dentistry at the University of Denver consist of legal documents, minutes and school history, as well as newspaper clippings and alumni information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown.


No further accruals are expected.


No accession record. There are three ledgers from the School of Dentistry at Mary Reed: 45.Dental School Journal, Feb. 1926 - Oct. 1930. 46.Denistry, Cash Disbursements, Jan 1930 - Nov. 1930. 69. School of Dentistry, June 1922 - Oct. 1930

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428