School for Dental Hygienists Alumni: All in the Family

Eastman Dental’s School for Dental Hygienists alumnus Rowena Joy Wood has donated a variety of historical materials to the Bibby Library archives. The materials tell the story of her family's association with Eastman Dental and the dental hygiene profession.
School for Dental Hygienists Class of 1933
When Rowena Mae Kendall graduated from the Rochester Dental Dispensary’s School for Dental Hygienists in 1933 she probably had no idea her daughter, Rowena Joy Wood, would graduate from the same school exactly thirty years later. Nor did she imagine that eventually, her granddaughter would become the third generation of her family to join the dental hygiene profession.


School for Dental Hygienists Class of 1963This is not the first time this story has been told. In 2007 Catharine Draper contacted Bibby Library for permission to use some archival images in an article she was writing for RDH journal. The article, published in the April 2007 edition, features the story of Wood’s family and includes a section on the history of Eastman Dental and the School for Dental Hygienists .

Rowena Joy Wood was kind enough to send Bibby Library a package containing mementos from her and her mother’s time at Eastman Dental.

Outline of Courses School for Dental Hygienists 1933The family’s affiliation with the dental hygiene profession began in 1932, when Rowena Mae Kendall, originally from Churchville New York, enrolled in the Rochester Dental Dispensary’s School of Dental Hygienists. Kendall graduated in 1933 and worked for the Batavia school system as district hygienist.

The next family member to join the profession was Kendall’s daughter, Rowena Joy Wood. Wood began her studies in 1961. By that time the profession had evolved and a two-year degree was required. Wood lived in student housing, located next door to the school.

School for Dental Hygienists Class of 1963During her second year, she walked or was bused to inner city elementary schools to provide oral hygiene care for children. She recalls seeing many children with severely decayed teeth. Rowena Joy graduated in 1963 and practiced dental hygiene in California. In 1992, Wood’s daughter Stacey became the third generation in her family to become a dental hygienist, also practicing in California.

This memorabilia offers insight into the early days of the dental hygiene profession, its growth and development, and its historical ties to Rochester. The collection includes:

For more information on the history of Eastman Dental, contact us.