Monday, August 09, 2010

Oh! Oyamada


The April 2010 issue of the NW Examiner carried an article by Portland historian Don Nelson titled "Japanese doctor loved America, died in WWII internment camp" (see p. 8-9 of the PDF). While not the type of catchy, feel-good article that might grab your attention on a Friday afternoon bus ride, the article is nevertheless important reading for historians of both dentistry and medicine in Oregon: Masahiro Oyamada, D.M.D., was a 1911 graduate of the North Pacific College of Dentistry (now the OHSU School of Dentistry); his sons Paul and Abe both went into practice, Paul (UODS Class of 1950) as a dentist and Abe (UOMD Class of 1947) as a physician. As with many Japanese Americans from the Pacific Northwest, the Oyamada family was interned at the start of World War II. Our Biographical File on Abe includes a letter he wrote while at Heart Mountain; addressed to medical school dean David Baird, the letter was the basis of one of our older posts.

Nelson's article on patriarch Masahiro was greatly welcomed by us, since the archives held little information on the early dental pioneer (best known as the inventor of a universal root elevator). Now, thanks to the seemingly limitless largesse of the School of Dentistry vault, we have this new photograph of Masahiro, taken in Fukushima, Japan, probably in the period 1900-1905. I nearly squealed when I saw it, but I believe I emitted an "oh!" instead...

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