The Women's Dental Association of the U.S. was founded by Dr. Mary Stillwell-Kuesel with 12 charter members. Dr. Annie T. Focht , secretary, listing 32 members in her report on March 4, 1893, stated: "the women interested in dentistry in Philadelphia in March 1892, to organize a society by which they could strengthen themselves by trying to help one another." At monthly meetings essayists presented scholarly dental papers. The mailing list grew to include about 100 women dentists. No reports exist after 1898, but previous records indicate they had interests and concerns shared by women colleagues of today.
In 1921, 12 women dentists met in Milwaukee, WI during the annual meeting of the American Dental Organization (ADA), forming the Federation of American Women Dentists. The name was changed twice and is currently known as the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD). The founding mothers, women of stature in dentistry, never intended AAWD to foster separation of women from men, nor did they wish to cause fragmentation in the profession. These women were involved and respected at all levels of organized dentistry. They wanted a support organization to share their common interests and to enjoy friendships and camaraderie. AAWD's first president, Dr. M. Evangeline Jordan , a 1898 graduate of the University of California School of Dentistry, was one of the first to limit her practice to children. A founder of pedodontics, she was devoted to organized dentistry and dental education.
In 1901 she was elected second vice president of the Southern California Dental Association and in 1909 organized the program for the Los Angeles County Dental Society featuring all women dentists. In 1910 she started a section of women dentists within the Southern California Dental Association. A former student, Dr. Alice Kinninger , remembers her vividly as a "role model and inspiration." Dr. Jordan was awarded honorary membership in the American Society of Dentistry for Children and the American Academy of Pedodontics after her retirement. She died in 1952.
Commitment to dentistry and prominence among peers became a tradition with AAWD leaders. Dr. Gillette Hayden , a 1902 graduate of Ohio State, served as AAWD's third president. Devoted to the advancement of periodontia in dental practice, she founded the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) in 1914, along with AAWD's sixth president, Dr. Grace R. Spaulding . She served as AAP's second president and was the second person to receive the Academy fellowship. After her untimely death in 1929, AAWD established a loan fund, the Gillette Hayden Memorial Foundation, to aid promising women dental students. The AAP dedicated its Journal to her memory: "The present status of periodontia is largely due to her vision and unceasing labors-Few have made more notable contributions to its progress and no one was ever more interested in its success or gave to it a more unselfish service."
For over 89 years, AAWD has supported women in dentistry. Initially social, it adapted to changing times and member concerns. After World War II, when women dentists forfeited positions held in men's absence, AAWD guided members toward newer goals. The tradition of mentoring was born. As membership increased, AAWD became a national network for employment opportunities and scientific exchange.
Charter members of AAWD:
Dr. Helen Addenbrook, Milwaukee, WI
Dr. Anna Burmeister, Milwaukee, WI
Dr. Kate A. Doherty, Milwaukee, WI
Dr. Mary Halsey, Amana, IA
Dr. Mary Hastings, Oshkosh, WI
Dr. Vida Latham, Chicago, IL
Dr. Josephine Pfeifer, Chicago, IL
Dr. Katherine Prothero, Chicago, IL
Dr. Celia Rich, Nashville, TN
Dr. Mae Fontaine, Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Minnie Proctor, Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Minnie Evangeline Jordan, Los Angeles, CA