Louis I. Grossman papers relating to the Philadelphia Root Canal Study Club and the American Association of Endodontists
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The father of modern endodontics and authority on root canal therapy, Louis I. Grossman, was born in 1901 in the Ukraine and immigrated with his family to Philadelphia. He graduated from South Philadelphia High School in 1919 and earned his doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Pennsylvania 1923. He then continued his education in Germany, earning his doctorate in medical dentistry at the University of Rostock in 1928.
In 1926, Grossman joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry, serving as the head of Endodontics Department for many years before becoming professor of emeritus of oral medicine in 1968. He lectured from 1968 until 1987, one year before his death in 1988. One of the many accomplishments for which Grossman is credited is his promotion of root canal therapy, a treatment which resulted in fewer teeth being extracted.
In 1939, Grossman founded the Philadelphia Root Canal Study Club with the intent of gathering a group of like-minded dentists to study and discuss problems concerned with the practice of root canal therapy, and to disseminate information by lectures and clinics in order to promote more adequate root canal therapy among members of the dental profession. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, root canal therapy was considered taboo by many; but with the Philadelphia Root Canal Study Club, "a group of dentists made the effort to break away from the focal infection theory, which virtually banned root canal treatment," (Grossman, page 41). The club consisted of an elected chairman to preside over meetings; a research committee composed of three elected members to promote and to assist in planning original studies of members; a secretary; and members who were considered to be ethical American Dental Association dentists with an interest in root canal therapy. In the early days of the organization, the group met on the third Wednesday of the month in the Hotel Rittenhouse. Grossman served as the secretary of the club and the members were dentists who practiced in and around the city of Philadelphia. Meetings appear to have held regularly during 1939, less so during 1940, and only irregularly after Pearl Harbor.
The Philadelphia Root Canal Study Club may have been the genesis for creating a national association of dentists interested in root canal therapy. With several other influential dentists in 1943, Grossman began organizing the American Root Therapy Association. At the Chicago Dental Society meeting, nineteen dentists from across the country met and the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) was officially formed.
Grossman died in 1988. He was survived by his wife, Emma May MacIntyre, whom he married in 1928 and their two children.
Grossman, Louis I. "History of the Philadelphia Root Canal Study Club: 1939," Journal of Endodontics, Special Issue, January 1981, Volume 8, pages 41-42.
Pace, Eric, Louis Grossman, 86, Professor and Expert On Dental Therapy, New York Times, March 26, 1988 (accessed March 3, 2016)
This collection is divided into material relating to the Philadelphia Root Canal Study Club and the American Association of Endodontists. The Philadelphia Root Canal Study Club material includes correspondence regarding the founding of the group, the proposal for the group, letters of acceptance, minutes, and a resolution commending the editor of the Journal of the American Dental Association for an editorial regarding pulpless teeth. The minutes include the names of the members who read papers, the topics of the papers, and the members present at each meeting.
The American Association of Endodontists material includes letters to and from Dr. Louis I. Grossman and various dentists across the country relating to the formation of this national organization. The organization appears to have become a reality in 1943 first as the American Root Therapy Association and, soon after, as the American Association of Endodontists. The process of organizing this group seems to have been fraught with misunderstandings relating to its establishment. Almost all the letters relating to the formation of the organization (found in box 1, folder 1) date from January 1943 to February 1944. There is one letter from 1949 and two from 1981. This series also includes the constitution, notes relating to the organization meeting in Chicago, a program for the first annual meeting of the American Association of Endodontists, a few report templates and form letters, and a membership list from 1949.
Transferred from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, 2015.
- American Association of Endodontists
- Philadelphia Root Canal Study Club
- University of Pennsylvania. School of Dental Medicine
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Kelin Baldridge
- Finding Aid Date
- 2016 February 19
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.