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Virginia Dental Association records

Identifier: 1988.Jul.17

Scope and Contents

The records of the Virginia Dental Association (VDA), 1870-2011, include the official minutes and proceedings of the organization as well as committee records, component society materials, correspondence, financial records, annual meeting records and programs, membership records, subject files, materials relating to the American Dental Association and other national, state, and local dental organizations, and research files used to write One Hundred Years of Dentistry in Virginia. These records provide insight into the changes in the dental profession and also the evolution of professional organizations in general.

Series 1: Annual Compilation of Records, 1870-1972. This series, divided into two subseries, consists of the official minutes of the VDA and the records of the Executive Council, the main governing body of the organization.

Subseries 1.1: Minute Books, 1870-1963. The minute books contain annual meeting programs and proceedings, speeches and papers delivered at the meetings, the Bulletin the official publication of the VDA, committee reports, financial statements, newspaper clippings, member lists, and meeting attendee lists including guests and exhibitors. Also included in the minute books are reports from the Bureau of Dental Heath which often contains statistics regarding race and schools where clinics were held and reports of the State Board of Dental Examiners which include statistics regarding applicants for dental licenses.

Subseries 1.2: Executive Council Records, 1931-1972, bulk 1962-1972. These records include meeting minutes and reports along with some correspondence.

Series 2: Financial Records, 1887-1975. These records include bank statements and deposits, invoices, proposed budgets, receipts, and treasurer's books.

Series 3: Committees, 1924-1979. This series contains materials such as correspondence and reports of various standing and special committees.

Series 4: Annual Meetings, 1924-1980. This series includes materials related to the planning and execution of the meetings and is divided into four subseries.

Subseries 4.1: Annual Meeting Records, 1929-1980. This subseries contains general records such as correspondence, financial information, and publicity related to the planning of each annual meeting. Some files also include the proceedings for the meeting as well. The planning for most meetings began one to two years prior to the event, which is indicated by the inclusive date range listed for each folder.

Subseries 4.2: Local Arrangements and Program Committees, 1929-1939, 1954-1956, 1965. Materials in this subseries include correspondence and planning information related to arrangements for clinics, programs, and entertainment at the annual meetings.

Subseries 4.3: Programs, 1924-1970. This subseries contains copies of the official meeting programs.

Subseries 4.4: Meeting Exhibitors, 1927-1980. This subseries includes correspondence with vendors of dental related products and services requesting that the vendors purchase exhibit space or buy advertisements in the meeting program.

Series 5: Correspondence, 1917-1985. This series is divided into two subseries.

Subseries 5.1: General VDA Correspondence, 1917-1975. This subseries consists mostly of correspondence between the membership and the officers of the VDA. There is also some correspondence with the ADA, other state dental societies, the Virginia State Health Department, Virginia Board of Dental Examiners, and other state offices. The subjects most often covered include dues (overdue notices and disputes), issues related to the governance and structure of the VDA, meeting planning (locations, exhibitors, entertainment, and programs), legislative issues related dentistry, and professional ethics issues (advertising, obligations to public health, etc).

Subseries 5.2: Officer's Correspondence and Related Materials, 1927-1985. These files consist primarily of correspondence of specific officers of the VDA. Additionaly, some files also include speeches, photographs, and clippings.

Series 6: Component Societies, 1931-1978. This series contains materials such as correspondence, membership lists, and meeting programs from the eight component societies in Virginia.

Series 7: Administrative Files, 1919-1984. This series consists of subject and court files and is divided into two subseries.

Subseries 7:1: Subject Files, 1919-1984. Contains various subject files relating to legislative and professional issues, membership benefits such as insurance and retirement plans, and other materials such as newspaper clippings and photographs. Also includes membership card files kept by the VDA.

Subseries 7.2: Federal Trade Commission Case, 1960-1978. This subseries pertains to the Federal Trade Commission complaint against the American Dental Association and several of its constituent groups including the Virginia Dental Association and the Northern Virginia Dental Society (American Dental Association, et. al., Docket No. 9093). The FTC complaint stated that the ADA ethical codes violated anittrust laws by barring advertising and preventing price competition. Part of the defense strategy was to prove that the VDA and the NVDS were non-profit groups and as such were outside the FTC's jurisdiction. Documents in this subseries include Children's Dental Health Week materials, public service brochures promoting dental care, newspaper clipping discussing community outreach programs by the VDA, and materials on the governance and benefits of the two groups.

Series 8: National and State Dental Organizations, 1923-1976. This series contains materials such as correspondence, brochures, and newsletters from various other dental organizations includuing the American Dental Association, several local Virginia dental clubs, and some out-of-state dental groups.

Series 9: One Hundred Years of Dentistry in Virginia, 1873-1969. This series contains essays, speeches, research notes, photographs and related materials that were compiled to write this history. Research materials were compiled primarily by Hermie Wait Powell, the author, and Dr. William Newton Hodgkins

Series 10: VDA Journals, 1928-2011. This series contains an incomplete set of the Bulletin and the Virginia Dental Journal. There are eight bound volumes of the Bulletin, loose issues of the Virginia Dental Journal from 1976-1983, 2008-2009, and 2011, and a DVD with the electronic version from 2004-2008.


  • 1870 - 2011
  • Majority of material found within 1870 - 1985


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for use without restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

On November 3, 1870 nine Virginia dentists met in Richmond to establish an organization to "cultivate the science and the art of dentistry, and all its collateral branches, to elevate and sustain the professional character of dentists; and to promote amongst them mutual improvement, social intercourse and good will." This meeting marked the creation of the Virginia Dental Association (VDA) or the Virginia State Dental Association as it was named when first created. The VDA changed to its current name in 1970. The VDA was the successor to the first professional dental organization, the Virginia Society of Surgeon Dentists which was formed in 1842.

An early goal of the VDA was to create standards and regulations for the profession. When the VDA was formed there were no statutes regulating the practice of dentistry in Virginia. The VDA spent several years drafting a bill to present to the state legislature culminating in the passage of the Dental Act of 1886. This act also established the Virginia Board of Dental Examiners. The VDA also successfully campaigned in 1915 to have a representative on the State Board of Health making Virginia the first state to include a dentist on such a board. In 1936 the VDA helped pass a bill that outlawed advertising dental services and prices as a means of protecting the public from unethical dental practices. This remained in effect until the early 1980s when the Federal Trade Commission ruled that truthful advertising could not be restricted.

Dental education was another subject of much interest and debate for the VDA. They supported the creation of the first dental school in Virginia in 1893 at the University College of Medicine (UCM). In 1913 UCM merged with the Medical College of Virginia (MCV), which had created its own dental school in 1897. For a time some members of the VDA thought that dentist should obtain an M.D. degree to practice medicine. The Dental Act only required a diploma and a certificate from the state board to practice dentistry. A dental degree was not required to sit for the state board exam. A law requiring an M.D. was passed in 1910, but was repealed in 1914 before any provisions were enacted.

The VDA, which is a component of the American Dental Association, created component societies in 1931. This was to better facilitate communication and professional development for member dentists throughout the state. Dentists who joined a component society also became members of the state and national associations through this tripartate structure. Virginia was divided into eight regions. Each region was arranged to have an existing local society within the area to become the component group where applicable. This arrangement is still in place today. The component societies are:

Component 1, Virginia Tidewater Dental Association, founded 1880

Component 2, Peninsula Dental Society, founded 1934

Component 3, Southside Dental Society, founded 1925

Component 4, Richmond Dental Society, founded 1894

Component 5, Piedmont Dental Society, founded 1916

Component 6, Southwest Virginia Dental Society, founded 1917

Component 7, Shenandoah Valley Dental Association, founded 1914

Component 8, Northern Virginia Dental Society, founded 1931

The VDA began publishing its journal the Bulletin of the Virginia State Dental Association in 1923. After sporadic publication for the first ten years the VDA began publishing on a regular schedule. The number of issues published has varied from three to six. The journal is currently published quarterly. The title was changed to the Virginia Dental Journal in 1964. It is a resource for members to find information about professional and scientific developments, legislative issues, and annual meetings. The journal also includs editorials and news updates from the component societies.

An annual meeting of the VDA was held for members to come together and benefit from the mutual exchange of ideas and practical knowledge. The meetings offered an opportunity to focus on issues such as professional ethics, dental legislation, public health and service, and education. Much of the work of the organization was carried out by committees all of which were overseen by the governing body the Executive Council. The VDA had three elected officers the president, the preseident-elect, and the secretary-treasurer as well as several appointed officers including the editor of the journal. The VDA did not have a headquarters until the organization hired its first executive secretary in 1964 and she set up the headquarters in her home. Since that time it has been located in several areas around Richmond. Today the VDA is governed by a board of directors and still holds an annual meeting. The VDA continues to help improve the profession and its members, support dental education, promote public dental health, and provide outreach services to underserved populations.


27 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The records of the Virgina Dental Association have been divided into ten series with subseries as needed. Series 1: Annual Compilation of Records, 1870-1972 -- Series 2: Financial Records, 1887-1975 -- Series 3: Committees, 1924-1979 -- Series 4: Annual Meetings, 1929-1980 -- Series 5: Correspondence, 1917-1985 -- Series 6: Component Societies, 1931-1978 -- Series 7: Administrative Files, 1919-1984 -- Series 8: National and State Dental Organizations, 1923-1976 -- Series 9: One Hundred Years of Dentistry in Virginia, 1873-1963 -- Series 10: VDA Journals, 1928-2011. Efforts have been made to preserve the original arrangement of these files where applicable.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Virginia Dental Association

Virginia Dental Association Records
A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, Health Sciences Library, Virginia Commonwealth University, Accession number 1988/Jul/17
Margaret Turman Kidd
2012 By Virginia Commonwealth University. All rights reserved.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the VCU Health Sciences Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 509 N 12th St
Box 980582
Richmond Virginia 23298 USA US
(804) 828-9898