Both the American Dental Association and National Dental Association have changed monikers several times. This 1918 journal shows where they briefly intersected.
WHAT YOU SEE HERE is the June 1918 Journal of the American Dental Association—except it wasn’t called that yet. Here’s why.
The American Dental Association merged with the Southern Dental Association way back in 1897, changing the name of the combined group to the National Dental Association. Why bother inventing a new name? Pride, ego or stubbornness—maybe all three—on the part of the SDA. After all, the SDA was older than the ADA, and probably didn’t want its new partner to “win.” In the end, it didn’t matter: The group assumed its original name and incorporated as the American Dental Association once and for all in 1922.
The National Dental Association had its beginnings in 1900, around the same time, as the Washington Society of Colored Dentists in the District of Columbia. (That name changed in 1907 to the Robert T. Freeman Dental Society, in honor of the first African-American
dental-college graduate.) Meanwhile, a Dr. D.A. Ferguson lobbied his colleagues to create a national organization of black dentists. The National Association of Colored Dentists was founded in 1901 as a result. Several twists and turns later, the two groups merged and expanded until they became the National Dental Association in 1932.
Today, the National Dental Association is dedicated to improving the delivery of oral health care in underserved communities, and also expanding educational opportunities for underrepresented minorities in dental medicine. And the American Dental Association is, among many other things, a rich professional-development resource as well as dentistry’s most powerful government lobbying group. Thanks to this nearly 104-year-old journal, we have an opportunity to celebrate the early days of two organizations whose indelible contributions helped make dentistry what it is today.