Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Horace Miller, Globe Trotter

One of the items we recently received from the OHSU School of Dentistry Vault o' History was a large cardboard box labeled "Herbert and Horace Miller." These two dentists, father and son, were key figures in the development of the dental school. Herbert was one of the original incorporators of the the Oregon College of Dentistry in 1898. He became the second dean of the North Pacific Dental College after the two schools merged, serving from 1901 to 1924 and again from 1942 to 1945.

Herbert's son Horace graduated from North Pacific College in 1924 (driving his father into retirement?) and then joined the school's faculty as professor of oral surgery. Horace was keenly interested in tooth transplantation and--not surprisingly--the use of local anesthetics in dentistry. The cardboard box contains several smaller boxes filled with 35mm slides of his research and clinical cases, as well as five 16mm films of surgical procedures (I believe; the cans aren't well labeled).

The bulk of the box contents, however, pertain to Horace's world travels. Having served with the U.S. Army Artillery in the First World War, Horace was appointed a major in the U.S. Dental Corps in 1941; he eventually achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. He spent most of the war overseas in Australia, where he was Chief of the Dental Section. He lost no time in making connections with his Aussie colleagues; a notice published in the August 1945 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that "in 1942 and 1943, the Victoria Dental Association of Australia held 'American' nights, when the entire program was presented by" Yanks, and that "an interallied dental meeting is held every month in Townsville, Queensland." Horace was an active participant in these events, and did research on the local clinical facilities and Australian dental education to bring home for his fellow faculty at NPC (which was the University of Oregon Dental School by the time he returned).

The traveling bug had bit; Horace would go on to attend numerous international conferences over the course of his forty-some-year career at the dental school. A memo from Dean Harold Noyes to the school faculty, dated Sept. 6, 1955, invited the whole group
to a program of slides and discussion by Dr. Miller on September 13, when he will discuss his last summer's trip through Europe and impressions gained through visits to Dental Schools in England, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Belgium, and Holland. Everyone will find of special interest, I am sure, Dr. Miller's evaluation of the differences in philosophy of dental education prevailing between different countries in Europe and between Europe and Schools of Dentistry in the United States. Also, the success that European schools have had with the education of women dentists, and the relative emphasis on Diagnosis versus Dental Skills, and the general level of Dental Graduates' capacities will pique our interest.
Some of Miller's travel slides, photographs, correspondence, writings, and ephemera were collected into a large scrapbook, and more materials were just tossed into the box alongside it. A few of those images are shown here. I'll let you be the judge of which, as Noyes wrote, "depict the education process in Europe" and which "display the beauties of old-world romanticism"....

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