An original dental cabinet used by the Eastman Dental Dispensary’s founding director, Dr. Harvey Burkhart, is among the many items recently donated by his great grandson.
Richard Quodomine and his partner Rina Aligaen delivered the items previously stored at their home in Pennsylvania, where he works as a cartographer and senior analyst for the City of Philadelphia.
“I’m delighted that these items will be preserved for generations of other dentists and hygienists,” he said. “Science and knowledge are their own beautiful thing and shouldn’t sit in a basement.”
Eastman Institute for Oral Health Director Dr. Eli Eliav thanked and welcomed the couple in front of a group of faculty, staff, University and EIOH librarians and other history lovers and special guests.
“The spirit that George Eastman founded this institution remains the same,” Dr. Eliav said. “We continue to serve the
community, teach the next generation of leaders and conduct meaningful research. If your great grandfather saw what we were doing now, he would be very proud.”
Mr. Quodomine shared a few family stories told to him by his grandparents. Sunday afternoons were frequently spent enjoying concerts at George Eastman’s house, and how struggling artists who were unable to pay for dental treatment would give them special paintings, including a portrait of Mrs. Burkhart. Or, when a businessman provided a check to pay for
dental work he couldn’t afford years earlier, Dr. Burkhart donated the entire amount to the dispensary to help more people in need. Mr. Quodomine also remembers his grandmother talking about her father (Dr. Burkhart) going to work every day during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, and how he always wore a mask then and during heavy flu seasons.
More than 100 years later, that same commitment to provide access to care was demonstrated during the COVID 19 pandemic when EIOH dentists and specialists treated more than 100 patients a day who traveled from 48 counties throughout New York because they were unable to find care elsewhere.
“The initial trepidation and uncertainty didn’t weaken the commitment and dedication of our staff, residents and faculty during the pandemic then and now as it continues to evolve,” Dr. Eliav added. “We work closely with URMC leadership to continue breaking barriers, serving the community, educating residents and gathering scientific evidence.”
“My great grandfather and grandfather as dentists never wanted to be anything less than to be servants of the public.” Mr. Quodomine added. “This is an opportunity to take the legacy of my great grandfather and put them all together in one place where they are accessible to use again.”
Guests carefully thumbed through the fragile pages of the newspaper clippings, old books and photographs, read inscriptions and admired the collectibles and personal effects.
“I even recognized a few people in some of the photos,” said Dr. Ronald Billings, the fourth director of Eastman Institute for Oral Health.
“Mr. Quodomine’s donation will enrich the existing Burkhart and Eastman Dental Center archives with photos, books, objects, and documents significant to the early history of the dispensary,” said Meredith Gozo, curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University’s Miner Library. From the existing collection, she brought a guest book that George Eastman, Dr. Burkhart and many other dignitaries signed during a grand opening event at the original dispensary on Main Street in Rochester, NY.
“The provenance of the materials and Mr. Quodomine’s intimate knowledge of his family’s involvement in Eastman’s foundational years make these resources a wonderful addition to the historical record,” she added.