Lucy was born in 1833, at a point in our evolution when the only options for women besides marriage were being a teacher or a nurse.
She was a teacher for ten years, but never lost sight of her true ambition to pursue a degree in advanced medical study. She was turned down for admission at the School of Eclectic Medicine, so she began private studies with one of the professor’s. This professor suggested she take up the study of dentistry, which she did.
Denied admission to the dental college, she pursued her passion privately, studying under the dean of the Ohio College of Dental Surgery and then apprenticed herself to a graduate of the school.
After trying unsuccessfully to gain admittance to the dental college, Lucy opened her own practice in the spring of 1861. After some time, she became known by what is assumed to be a Native American name; “the woman who pulls teeth.”
After years of hands on experience, the Ohio College of Dental Surgery finally admitted her to the senior class. She received credit for her years of professional practice and earned her degree after only a few months. In February of 1866 Lucy Hobbs became the first woman in the U.S. (and most likely the world) to receive her doctorate in dentistry.
While practicing later in Chicago, Lucy met her future husband, who, under his wife’s guidance, also became a dentist.
After her husband’s death Lucy became active in many causes, especially the women’s suffrage movement.
Though she was a lone woman in her initial pursuit to become a dentist, by the turn of the century there were almost one thousand female dentists.
Thanks to the glass ceiling Lucy Hobbs Taylor broke through, as we stepped into the new millennium there were almost 45,000 female dentists in the United States alone.