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Grieves Historical Collection

Clarence Jones Grieves

A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Clarence Jones Grieves was born on October 23, 1868, the son of Edward Weldin and Lucretia Jones Grieves. In his early years, his family moved to Baltimore, and Clarence completed his secondary education at The Manual Training School, later renamed The Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

Clarence's father was a mechanical engineer, who spent a portion of his professional career affiliated with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This background fueled the boy's development and later professional scientific activities.

Between Clarence and the elder Grieves there was always a most cordial comradeship. They were to each other brothers, rather than father and son, and towards his step-mother who survives him, he always showed the kindest and most considerate attitude. 1

No doubt the influence of his father's mechanical leanings provided an ideal background to Clarence's eventual research interests and dental practice, a profession which arguably is as much mechanical as it is medical. His early contributions to the published literature, focusing on the composition of the metals being used in the manufacture of dental orthodontic appliances, remained authoritative references in the field. His scientific vision eventually focused itself on the connections between technology and histology, as evidenced in later publications devoted to focal infections.

After completing school, Clarence joined his father for a time as an employee with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. However, he soon gave in to the tuggings of an interest in dentistry, the seeds of which first germinated at the hands of two people very close to him. These were his maternal uncle, Dr. Robert Jones, a prominent dentist, and Dr. Richard Grady, also a dentist, who participated in the founding of the Polytechnic Institute, where Clarence first came under his influence. Consequently, Clarence entered the Dental Department of the University of Maryland for the 1886-87 session, and successfully completed the two-year requirement the next year, graduating as a member of the 1888 class. Following his graduation, he received an immediate appointment as an assistant demonstrator in operative dentistry. He continued for several years as a demonstrator in the area of crown and bridge-work.


The MEDICAL DIRECTORY AND REGISTER FOR BALTIMORE, WASHINGTON, MARYLAND AND DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA of 1888 lists the address of Dr. Grieves as 25 S. Fulton Avenue in Baltimore. Also, he is known to have maintained professional association with Dr. Richard Grady and Dr. H. A. Wilson for several years in an office on Howard Street.

In the early years of his career, he began participating in activities throughout the wider professional community. On April 6-8,1897, a combined assembly of the Maryland State Dental Association, the Washington City Dental Society, and the Virginia State Dental Association convened in Old Point Comfort, Virginia. Grieves read his paper entitled "Removable plate-bridge, vulcanite base" before that group. It was the first of many articles that appeared in the DENTAL COSMOS in subsequent years, including the 1909 feature article illustrated here, entitled "The Behavior of Certain Metals in the Mouth." Certainly, this interest in the mechanical and metallurgical aspects of the dental craft naturally correlated with his demonstrator duties at the University of Maryland.

His name appeared in the 1906-07 catalog of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery as its first Professor of Comparative Anatomy and Dental Histology. This position evolved from the former Professorship of Physiology and Comparative Anatomy, and in appointing Grieves to the new post, the school also created the Professorship of Physiology. Grieves retained his post until 1917, and it was during this tenure that an important new focus of his research found its fruition in print.


One of his articles entitled "The Teaching of Pathology in the Dental Schools" appeared in THE DENTAL BRIEF in July 1913. Grieves came to understand that infection and disease are equal in importance to mechanical function in the overall condition of oral health. With this paper, he helped the field of dental education to recognize that materials and mechanics have significant inherent implications for infection in the consideration of oral health and disease.

The call of patriotism beckoned Grieves, and he resigned his position at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in order to enter the Naval Reserve Force, in August 1918. His service record appears in the book MARYLAND IN THE WORLD WAR, 1917-1919. His assignment was with the hospital attached to the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. At the conclusion of his tour of service, he re-entered civilian life and resumed professional practice in Baltimore in March, 1919.

He remained in practice for the next few years, until a hemiplegia forced him to abandon the physical rigors of his work and publication activities. Nevertheless, his mind remained active, and he continued to nurture his interests in reading and keeping up with the continuing developments taking place in national and state dental associations.

His love for his family and closest acquaintances remained at the heart of his sensitivites until his death. His colleagues among the Maryland State Dental Association celebrated his personality, his friendship, and his professional gifts and accomplishments by establishing the Clarence J. Grieves Library Foundation in 1925, during the closing years of his physical disability. After nearly five years of invalidism, he died at his home on Novenber 4, 1927.


  1. George E. Hardy, "Doctor Clarence Jones Grieves, Part II," The Bulletin, the National Alumni Association of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery 2 (December 1927) : 16.


"It was then voted that we accept the Committee's report to date and authorize the establishment of the Clarence J. Grieves Library Foundation of the Maryland State Dental Association with a Board of Trustees as outlined in the Committee's report. It was voted that the Trustees be instructed to proceed with their plans for the Foundation and that the Library be placed at the University of Maryland ..." 1

Such was the action taken by the Maryland State Dental Association's Board of Governors at a special meeting on July 22, 1925. Dr. Clarence J. Grieves already had earned several medals awarded by various state dental societies around the country. In the interest of providing a unique and suitable commemoration for their friend and colleague, the members of the Maryland State Dental Association decided that another such medal would be too insufficient an honor, and his home state owed him a far more substantial tribute. Consequently, the Association voted that the Clarence J. Grieves Library Foundation project would do far more to secure his memory in perpetuity, and at the same time play the right sentimental chords in his heart while he still lived.

The treasurer of the Association processed a check for $1000.00 as the initial seed money for the Foundation. With this in hand, the secretary of the Foundation's Board of Trustees, who also was secretary of the Association, purchased a bond at 6% interest. In addition to this financial beginning, the Association began assembling a collection of books contributed by its members, to complement the personal library of Dr. Grieves. The books remained in the hands of the Association pending an appropriate permanent home. The Association decided to place the collection at the University of Maryland, provided the University would agree to meet the standards for its care and accommodations, according to the terms stipulated by the Foundation's Board of Trustees. By May, 1926, the Grieves Library had taken its place within the University's Dental Library, then under the overall administrative control of Dental School Dean J. Ben Robinson.

In accepting the collection, the University adhered to the original agreement which called for the Clarence J. Grieves Library Foundation to be housed within the school's existing Dental Library, but retained and controlled as a separate resource. This configuration of two libraries in one remained in place within the school for several years. However, on October 18, 1938, the University and the Maryland State Dental Association adopted a new agreement which merged the two libraries and retained the name of the Clarence J. Grieves Library Foundation. Under the terms of this new agreement, the Association voluntarily relinquished to the University its administrative and fiscal authority over the Foundation and collection.

As part of creating the Foundation, the Trustees commissioned an artist to design an appropriate bookplate, and arranged for a bronze tablet to accompany the collection in its permanent quarters. In addition, on January 16, 1939, the Association presented an oil portrait of Dr. Grieves, to hang in the Library along with the collection. As the modern descendant of the earlier Dental School Library, the Health Sciences and Human Services Library still hosts both the tablet and the portrait.



Chapin Aaron Harris (1806-1860) was a native of Onondaga County, New York. He studied medicine and originally practiced for a time in Ohio before settling in Baltimore, where he became the pupil of Dr. Horace Hayden. Dentistry as a separate academic discipline did not exist before 1840, and Harris along with his mentor Hayden joined their combined talents and interests to develop and establish the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. Hayden was the dedicated teacher, while Harris understood and mastered the practical aspects of developing a charter and assembling a faculty. Harris' THE DENTAL ART, published in 1839, was the program's first textbook. The book, under its subsequent title PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF DENTAL SURGERY, enjoyed an enduring history as the definitive work, lasting until the 13th edition of 1913. In addition to editing THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF DENTAL SCIENCE, Harris' other major work was his DICTIONARY OF DENTAL SCIENCE, first published in 1849.


Horace Hayden (1769-1844) was born in Windsor, Connecticut, on October 13, 1769. When he required the services of a dentist in 1795, he sought out the renowned dental practitioner John Greenwood in New York, and Greenwood's skill inspired Hayden to turn his own life's attention to the calling of dentistry. Because there was no formal education for dentists available at the time, Hayden assembled what relevant readings he could find, and engaged in the study on his own. He eventually came to Baltimore and enjoyed success in private dental practice. In 1837, he accepted an invitation to deliver lectures on dentistry to the medical students at the University of Maryland. A few years later, the University awarded him an honorary M.D. beyond his celebrated collaboration with Chapin Harris in the founding of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, Hayden's intellectual tendencies enabled him to pursue an interest in a variety of subjects, one of which was natural history. Hayden's rural Connecticut upbringing had fostered his appreciation of nature during his youth, and that appeal deepened in his adult years. He published his book GEOLOGICAL ESSAYS in 1820, and he discovered a new mineral named Haydenite in his honor, a variety of the mineral Chabazite. Although Hayden was not a frequent contributor to the scientific literaure, this work was the first book on general geology printed in the United States.

Ferdinand James Samuel Gorgas (1835-1914), a native of Virginia, graduated from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1855. He began practice in Baltimore that same year, and in 1858, he accepted a position as Demonstrator in the College. Two years later, he succeeded the school's founder Chapin Harris, both as the chair of Dental Surgery and Therapeutics, and as the school's Dean. He held that position until 1882, resigning to accept the invitation to become the founding Dean and Professor of Dental Science in the new Dental Department of the University of Maryland. Early in his career, Gorgas understood the importance of applying principles of medicine to the study and practice of dentistry. Consequently, he enrolled and earned the M.D. from the University of Maryland in 1863. During his career, he earned a reputation as a prolific and significant contributor to the dental literature. Those contributions included compiling many editions of Chapin Harris' two major works. Gorgas' most important original work, DENTAL MEDICINE, A MANUAL OF DENTAL MATERIA MEDICA AND THERAPEUTICS, is a treatise derived from his classroom lectures of many years. He drew upon the known authorities in the field of materia medica, tailoring his presentation of therapeutic topics to a new relevance for the dental profession. First published in 1884, this highly successful work endured through eight editions, including a 1910 edition published in England.

This is the first edition of Carl F.W. Bödecker's work on dental anatomy. His other titles include such works as ELEMENTARY HISTOLOGY FOR DENTAL HYGIENISTS and FUNDAMENTALS OF DENTAL HISTOLOGY AND EMBRYOLOGY. This book later appeared in German editions published in Vienna within a few years. Bödecker had studied in Vienna under the noted physician/illustrator Carl Heitzmann, whose investigations allied him with other proponents of the revolutionary protoplasm concept. Bödecker applied Heitzmann's cell theories to the field of dental histology on his own behalf, and on that of several other dentists he cites as sharing the experience of Heitzmann's teaching.

THE AMERICAN SYSTEM OF DENTISTRY edited by Wilbur F. Litch is a sweeping, 3-volume compendium of theoretical and practical techniques. Published in 1886, it is an excellent example of a successful attempt to ascribe scientific legitimacy to a health science discipline developing just barely beyond its adolescence. The scope of its coverage includes topics ranging from dental anatomy and pathology, through the mechanical procedures of operative and restorative dental surgery and metallurgy, and on to anesthesia, dentition, materia medica and therapeutics, the physiology of digestion and speech, and jurisprudence. Shunned by physicians, dentistry by this time was beginning to lay claim to its position as a valid new health field.


Horace Wells (1815-1848), a dentist from Hartford, Connecticut, was one of the core figures at the heart of the controversy concerning the discovery of anesthesia. The debate about its discovery hinges on the discrepancies between the dates of theoretical discussion about its potential, versus the actual first successful surgical demonstrations. Wells claims credit for conducting several 1844 case experiments in which he used nitrous oxide, or "laughing gas," to render his patients insensible to pain while undergoing tooth extractions. Wells' initial planned public demonstration had failed, but he did manage to use the procedure with some success in later attempts. The titles highlighted here include several published testimonial statements from patients who verified that those experiments were successful. Wells' chief competitors in the claim of discovering anesthesia were William T.G. Morton, who chose sulphuric ether as his form of anesthesia, and Charles T. Jackson, Morton's teacher, who claimed to have suggested the idea to Morton initially. In Wells' case, the story ended in tragedy with his later addiction to chloroform and eventual suicide on January 25, 1848.


William T.G. Morton (1819-1868), a dentist practicing in Boston, Massachusetts, concentrated his experimentations on the use of sulphuric ether. This is Morton's account of his successful experience, punctuated by testimony from the renowned Boston physician Dr. John Warren and others, to defend his primacy as the discoverer of the applicability of ether in surgical procedures. Although Wells' demonstration occurred earlier, his attempt was misinterpreted as a failure. Morton decided to name his discovery Letheon, named for Lethe, the river of oblivion (or forgetfulness) in Greek mythology. An important adjunct to the whole question is Morton's accompanying claim to the invention of the apparatus used in the administration of the gas. Morton first used sulphuric ether on his dental patients as early as Sept. 30, 1846. Then on October 17, 1846, Morton administered ether to a patient undergoing surgery at the skilled hands of Massachusetts General Hospital surgeon Dr. John C. Warren. Dr. Warren removed a tumor from the patient's neck, while Morton's anesthesia successfully prevented the patient's suffering. On the following day, Dr. George Hayward performed a similar successful operation on the arm of another patient.

Charles T. Jackson (1805-1880) further complicated the anesthesia controversy. As a chemist, Jackson had become acquainted with the desensitizing capability of ether, as a result of accidental inhalations caused by the occasional breakage of storage beakers in his laboratory. Such accidents were not uncommon in his duties as geologist and chemist to the state of Maine. Jackson recounts that the nerves of sensation are distinct from those of motion and organic life, and may be made insensible, without affecting any of the other systems. He noticed that the insensibility of those nerves occurred some time before unconsciousness, an amount of time that he guessed ought to be sufficient for the performing of most surgical operations. Against a prevailing opinion about the unsafe nature of inhaling ether vapor, Jackson claimed that using a perfectly pure form of the gas, and carefully mixing it with normal atmospheric air would render it totally safe. His discovery of the anesthetic effects of ether, and his series of communications to eight colleagues about that discovery during the years 1841-46 antedate Morton's first use of ether for dental extractions in Sept. 1846. Testimonies from that period describe Jackson's theory about alleviating pain during surgical operations, based upon his successful therapeutic use of ether vapor against the pain of conditions such as decayed teeth and diseased spines (George T. Dexter, 1842). Up until then, however, his claims had been only theoretical with respect to any surgical procedures. In truth, he had proven insensitivity against pain, but not yet within the context of surgery. As Morton's teacher, Jackson had shared his thoughts and discoveries with his young pupil. Once Morton later applied the theory in the successful operation of October 1846, Jackson, a rabble-rouser who also had attempted to wrest credit for the telegraph from Samuel F.B. Morse, similarly tried to divert Morton's credit onto himself as the real initiator of the procedure. In the bitter battle that subsequently ensued, neither man was able definitively to substantiate his claim to primacy before the greater scientific community.

Although he was born in Belgium, Johann Jakob Joseph Serre (1759-1830) rose to prominence through his work in Vienna and Berlin. Shown on the left is his 1791 treatise on gum diseases, which included several plates illustrating dental extracting instruments, many of which he either invented or otherwise perfected. In addition, his earlier 1788 work on toothache was one of the most respected books on the subject from the period. Also featured here is his greatest work which followed later in 1803, a comprehensive practical treatise on dental operations. Serre's books proved the breadth of his practical knowledge and scholarship, and they did much to elevate the dental profession in Germany at the time.


James Snell's book on operative dentistry first appeared in London in 1831. Snell condemned the authors of many dental books who promised much under the guise of fanciful title pages, but who delivered very little substance within their narratives. He declared his liberal intention to impart his knowledge of the many practical aspects of operative dentistry, including his wish to share with his professional brethren complete information about the nature and function of his inventory of dental instruments. The most important of these instruments, he asserted, is a well-made and fully functional operating chair, designed to accommodate the patient's full ease and comfort, while affording the operator the capability of nearly limitless positioning. He devoted an entire chapter in this book to a description of the chair which he designed and had built for use in his practice. This work followed his 1824 book on the use and function of obturators.

Joseph Scott's work on preventing the loss of the teeth is another excellent example of the scientific and medical emphasis emerging in the years before the dental profession gained its formalized academic foundation. Serious-minded practitioners striving to present themselves as legitimate clinicians adopted the term "Surgeon-Dentist" for their most appropriate denomination as men of medicine. Their emerging interest and competency in the preservation of oral health marked a genuine departure from the earlier tooth-drawers who knew little if anything about health, and were not capable of much more than painful butchering. Dentists experimented with different materials in the fabrication and mounting of teeth, in the interest of implementing solutions that were efficient and physiologically sound. This book enjoyed a history of five editions, up to 1838.


Among the most prolific of dental authors writing at the turn of the twentieth century, G. V. Black (1836-1915) was the most eminent proponent of the clinical nature of operative dentistry. Featured here are but two of his many works, both of which endured through several editions. His comprehensive WORK ON OPERATIVE DENTISTRY remained the core text for decades. His study of anatomy and pathology, coupled with his clinical observations, underscored the fundamentals of preventive dentistry and operative techniques. He experimented extensively with the nature of amalgam, striving to arrive at the proper composition of silver and tin to make the most ideal filling material available, one that would be both clinically effective and mechanically sound. His was indeed the definitive and authoritative voice in professional practice.

Philipp Pfaff (1716-1780) was dentist to Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. This work was the first dental treatise by a German dentist. It is comprehensive in its scope, addressing important observations related to dental anatomy, pathology, therapeutics, and prosthesis. Of particular interest is Pfaff's unique description of the use of essence of turpentine in cases of post-extraction hemorrhage. He earned credit for being the first to cap an exposed dental pulp prior to the stopping of a tooth. While his choices for prosthetic tooth materials were consistent with those of the great Pierre Fauchard, an important innovation for Pfaff was that he was the first to make use of plaster models. He took wax casts of the jaw in two segments, one of the right, and one of the left. There is no record of any such procedures among the writings of preceding authors, and Pfaff's approach in this regard ranks among the premiere developments in dental prosthetics.


  1. Maryland State Dental Association. Board of Governors. Minutes, Special Meeting, July 22, 1925.
Last edited on: Monday, October 16, 2017