Wednesday, November 9, 2016

North Carolina Provided Free Dental Care for Students, 1919

Letters of praise for the free dental work provided to students throughout North Carolina to Dr. G.M. Cooper in Raleigh, who was state director of medical inspections in schools, as published in the November, 1919, issue of The Health Bulletin, published by the North Carolina State Board of Health

Dear Dr. Cooper,
I am just writing you a word to say that you might have sent someone else as good as Dr. Bobbitt, but you certainly couldn’t have sent anyone who could have done the work any better than he is doing it. He is as near 100 percent efficient as a man can be. He works from eight to twelve hours, and it is work, too.

I shall be glad to help him in any way I can. I am letting a part of my regular work go so long as I can help any in this, because I know the work the doctor is now doing is more badly needed than anything else at this time.

The people are friendly and anxious for the work to be done, and the more they hear of the class of work being done by the doctor the more anxious they are for him to reach them.

I know just the proposition you have to face, and know what it means to try to do a lot of work with limited capital, but if it can be done at all, I would like very much to have him for at least nine weeks. This will make it possible for him to get into all the schools of the county, and the work is so badly needed. I wish you could be up here for a few days and see just what is needed and what he is doing.


Double Creek School
W.L. Brewer, Princ.
Rosefarm, Abshers, N.C.
September 10, 1919

Dear Dr. Cooper,
I am writing to say that we had Dr. J.F. Reece with us last week. The doctor is a genial good man and soon won the confidence of the children. Some of the patrons of the school were out to meet the doctor and heard his talk to the school, which was just splendid. He treated 28 of our pupils, and the work is greatly appreciated. The children were so anxious to have their teeth treated that they could hardly wait until they were called. This is one of the greatest things the State could do for the children, and it is to be hoped that it will not only prove a very great blessing to the individual child but to the State as a hole, for healthy children are the State’s best assets.

Kindest regards and best wishes for your success in this great work. I am
Cordially and sincerely ours,
W.L. Brewer


This was a very interesting week. I cannot make more than one rural school a day and do my study toward the children. All of the schools I visited the past week were done on horseback, the only means of transportation in this section. The children behave splendidly, in spite of wild rumors as to stripping them, vaccinating, etc. They soon discover I am quite harmless and are intensely interested in themselves and others. They crowd around and many of them confide symptoms which you know is the acid test of a child’s confidence. I am expecting to work next week in arranging for the clinic on the 20th.
                --Miss Birdie Dunn, State Board of Health school nurse writing from Cherokee


Two days later, she reported: We had a good response here considering everything: 38 children were operated on and everything went well. Today, answering a complaint from a specialist as to our not discriminating against children of well-to-do people, I told him that these clinics are relieving a few, but educating the whole communities, that eventually they would voluntarily, and at a sacrifice, present their children to specialists for private treatment, and that but the smallest per cent now accepting this service would, without it, have treatment at all.


Dear Dr. Cooper,
We had a very successful dental clinic here the latter part of the week. The parents and children were very much interested in the work. Dr. Schultz seems to be doing the work and the people liked him just fine. He worked three days as hard as he could and had a day’s work to do when his time was out. I don’t believe there is anything more important in the school work than to look after the children’s teeth and to teach them to take care of the teeth; therefore I wish to express my appreciation for the work you are doing. I will be ready at any time to cooperate with you in this work.

About five years ago you came to Elm City and made a medical examination of the school children. I have two boys, and you advised me that they had enlarged tonsils and adenoids. You also suggested that I have them operated on. I did so, and they have improved wonderfully. The older boy is one of the finest physical specimens to be found anywhere. He is nearly 13 years old now, weighs 90 pounds, is well muscled and is as hard as a brick. He is working in the field this summer. Last year he led the class when they took the seventh grade county examination. This year he won the medal for declamation. My younger boy has improved wonderfully. Dr.  ….., of ….., operated on these boys and I think is a slick operator. I hope you will come down to see us as we would like to talk with you about the work.
Yours very truly, W.G. Coltrane

Prof. Coltrane was head of the Grifton schools in Pitt County when this letter was written.


The state also received a brief “May God bless you,” from a mother.

Superintendent M.K. Weber, head of the Asheville schools:
Permit me to express my keen appreciation and deep satisfaction in the plans that led to the selection of Asheville as one of the cities of the State in which you have established dental clinics.

The first week of the clinic, closing Saturday, with 260 children registered at the one building alone, clearly demonstrated the great value as well as the need of this work. With this almost startling object lesson of the urgent need I wish to join in an unanimous public sentiment and appeal to your office to extend the time of this clinic in Asheville for at least two weeks.

From Dr. F.L. Hunt, Secretary of the State Board of Dental Examiners:
I had the pleasure of visiting the clinic being conducted by Dr. Schultz in one of the Asheville schools yesterday, and am certainly pleased with the work being done.

From Dr. Warren W. Way, Record of St. Mary’s:
I have requested every teacher in the St. Mary’s faculty to comply with the State law for public school teachers which requires a health certificate. I think it a wise law.

From Prof. C.C. Wright, head of the Wilkes County schools:
I am writing to know if you can let Dr. Reece stay with us through the first week in November. I have done the very best I could in making his itinerary, and am only sorry that I cannot send him to all the places clamoring for him. He has done excellent work and our people are well pleased and want him back.

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