New Acquisition: A Historical Account of the Dentist Wives’ Club of Chicago

The Dentist Wives' Club

A history of the Dentist Wives' Club states that it was “was born during the Great Depression. In spite of, or perhaps because of this arduous period." Mayme P. Williams is seated in the front row, third from right. Case folio F548.9.B53 D36 1980

The Newberry has acquired archival photos and documents related to the Dentist Wives’ Club of Chicago, a group founded in 1930 to provide a social outlet for women and awareness of dental health and the furthering of the dental profession in the Black community. The materials are comprised of twenty-six mostly black-and-white photographs and a historical account published for the organization’s fiftieth anniversary.

The Dentists' Wives Club was a women's adjunct to the Chicago chapter of the National Dentists' Association and part of the National Dentists' Association Auxiliary. The likely prior owner of the book and photographs was Mayme P. Williams; she oversaw the historical publication as she was the club's History Committee Chairperson at the time. She is seen in nearly every original photograph; there also is a mimeographed circular letter from 1958 over her signature. Mayme's husband, Charles E. Williams, was a dentist on the South and West Sides of Chicago from 1924 to 1978 and served as the NDA's chairman of the board for ten years.

The new acquisition will enhance the Newberry’s holdings in its core subjects of Genealogy and Local History and Chicago and the Midwest. The Newberry seeks primary and secondary local history sources of Black communities as part of its emphasis on diversity and inclusivity across all of its collecting areas. The club history shares that members focused their efforts on encouraging African Americans to patronize Black dentists, an initiative supported by newspapers such as the Chicago Bee, the Chicago Defender, and the Chicago Whip. The text continues with a decade by decade chronology showing how the group grew from a small social club into a large philanthropic organization.

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