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Jesse C. Green papers


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

Dr. Jesse C. Green, D.D.S. was born on December 13, 1817, in Birmingham Township in Delaware County, PA, and died on July 26, 1920, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, at the age of 103. The son of William and Phoebe Hatton Green, Jesse C. Green was raised as a Quaker and was a member of the Society of Friends. Following the completion of his own education in 1836, he began to teach at the Friends' School in West Chester. After teaching for a few years, Dr. Green decided to train as a dentist, eventually buying the practice of his preceptor, Dr. Mahlon Gallagher, in 1843. He ran this West Chester establishment for another sixty-six years until his retirement in 1900.

Dr. Green was a dedicated and meticulous observer of the development of modern dentistry practices and a talented inventor; and due to his longevity, was able to witness the evolution of his profession over almost eight decades. Throughout his career, he made many of his own dental instruments and he "carved and baked porcelain teeth for his own use," (Belcher, page 1347) as well as working with brass tooth moulds. In addition to his practice of dentistry, he served as the first secretary on the Board of Dental Examiners (established in 1876) and was an active member in the Chester and Delaware County Dental Society and the Pennsylvania State Dental Society. In 1865, the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery awarded him an honorary degree of doctor of dental surgery and on the occasion of his 100th birthday, he was nationally recognized by the dental community.

Dr. Green was also noted for his thorough meteorological notes that he made "three times daily since 1857 on the weather and neatly recorded them in numerous volumes, a period of sixty years, thus antedating the government, which [came] to him for records previous to its taking up the work," (Belcher 1346). He developed, from his own design, barometers, thermometers, rain gauges, and apparatus for recording the wind's velocity.

Dr. Green married Alice W. Shields (1822-1900) on September 30, 1845 and they were the parents of four children: Clara (born 1847), Mary (1852-1886), Edith (1855-1859), and William Hatton Green (born 1864). He was an active member of the Quaker community and, at the time of his death, a member of Chester County's New Garden Meeting.

Works Referenced: Belcher, William W., ed. "Greeting!" Oral Hygiene (1917): 1344-347. Google Books. Web. 29 June 2016

"Obituary of Jesse C. Green." The Dental Cosmos September (1920): 1150-151. Web. 29 June 2016

The bulk of information within this collection is found within the ledger of Dr. Jesse C. Green, "Book A," which dates from 1836 to 1852, although the majority of entries were made during the 1840s. Earliest entries in the ledger document the cost of tuition for students in West Chester, Pennsylvania. It is unclear if payment for the tuition was directed to Dr. Green, or if he was acting as an accountant for several schools, in particular the Friends' School in West Chester, the Concord School District, and the West Goshen School District. For all three schools, Dr. Green's accounts document the items required to outfit the schools, including ink bottles, quills, and paper; furniture (benches, writing desks, and arm chairs); and heating and cleaning supplies. The ledger also documents Dr. Green's dental practice, with entries detailing dental procedures and the cost of each procedure. Accounts are generally held for families, resulting in an overview of several generations' dental health. For the most part, Dr. Green's main procedures included extraction of teeth, inserting gold plugs, and setting teeth into silver plates. The purchase of dentifrice is frequently recorded.

Loose papers laid into the volume were removed and placed in folders. When items were removed from specific pages within the volume, notes of the original location are penciled on the item. Laid in material includes advertisements, correspondence, Green's dental office relocation notice, financial notes, information about Quaker meetings, and West Chester Superintendent of Schools student admittance forms. In general, these documents provide information on Green's professional life as a dentist between 1845 and 1859, and researchers interested in studying dental practices, dental procedures, and the costs associated with dental health in the mid 1800s will find the collection to be of value. Researchers interested in tuition during the late 1830s and early 1840s as well as the number and types of students receiving schooling may also find the account book to be of interest.

Transferred from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, 2015.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Siduri Beckman
Finding Aid Date
2016 July 8
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

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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.

Collection Inventory

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Account book, "Book A", 1836-1852.
Box 1 Folder 1
Advertisements (Indian Purgative; Myron Shew, photographic equipment dealer; Phrenology Practically Applied to the Development and Delineation of Living Characters and Talents, lecture by O.S. Fowler and J.A. Brevoort; Roots System of Rapid Writing; and Stokes and Buxby's Wholesale and Retail Dry Goods Store), circa 1838-1851.
Box 1 Folder 2
Correspondence (letters regarding penmanship, publication of a dental dictionary, household appliance advice, Dr. John Allen's patented method for constructing full sets of teeth, meteorological observations, and requests to see patients), 1840-1858.
Box 1 Folder 3
Dental office relocation notification (Jesse C. Green to the house next to the Catholic Church--probably 109 West Gay Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania), 1845.
Box 1 Folder 4
Financial documents (receipts for household expenses, fabric, and dental equipment; account book; bills for dental services; and blank checks for the Bank of Chester County), 1836-1859.
Box 1 Folder 5
Quaker Meeting material (includes certificate of introduction for two Friends to attend Meetings in Salem, articles of agreement for the West Chester preparative meeting, and a form letter for a request to be re-admitted to Meetings), 1847-1852, undated.
Box 1 Folder 6
West Chester Superintendent of Schools, student admittance forms and request, 1857.
Box 1 Folder 7
Miscellaneous documents (includes notes (largely names and figures), sketches, and directions for using the furnace), undated.
Box 1 Folder 8

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