sod history

about us—earliest beginnings

Of course, the earliest beginnings of any Meharry program, department, school, or initiative can be traced back to a chance meeting one stormy night in the 1820s, a story typically known as the Salt Wagon Story. This chance meeting culminated in 1876, when the Meharry Medical Department of Central Tennessee College admitted its first 11 students.

The idea to establish a dental department within the Meharry medical department originated in the minds of a few medical alumni, but it wasn't until eight years later, in 1884, when the trustees of Central Tennessee College considered the feasibility of adding dental education as part of the medical curriculum.

In June of that same year, Dean George Whipple Hubbard, M.D., announced that arrangements for opening the dental department had been consummated. He estimated that it would cost $500 for "a suitable outfit for our dental rooms." He secured the following contributions in currency and goods to get the dental school started:

  • $20 in cash and $15 in instruments from White Dental Manufacturing Co. (Philadelphia)
  • $10 cash and $15 worth of instruments from G. Sibley (Philadelphia)
  • $10 cash and $25 in instruments from H.D. Justis (Philadelphia)
  • $25 in instruments from New York Dental Mfg. Co.
  • $10 cash from Chas. Abbey (New York)
  • $5 cash from Dr. Pierce (Philadelphia)
  • $20 cash from J. H. Ashmead & Son (Hartford, Connecticut)

Even though the total amount received did not reach Hubbard's original estimate, he believed it was enough to start the department while continuing to seek further contributions.

Dean Hubbard then consulted with William Henry Morgan, M.D., D.D.S., founding dean of the Department of Dentistry at Vanderbilt University, to help get Meharry's dental program started. Dr. Morgan had served as president of the National (American) Dental Association in 1870 and had gained a national reputation. Hubbard gave Morgan the responsibility of implementing the new dental program.

Click here to learn more about the earliest years of the actual program.