Dr. Jessie Katherine Gideon-Garnett was the first black woman to graduate from Tufts University’s School of Dental Medicine and the first black woman to practice dentistry in Boston. Her family moved to the Boston area when she was eleven, settling in Roxbury. She attended Girls’ High School and after graduating enrolled at Tufts, determined to become a dentist.
One of the deans insisted that her acceptance was a mistake, but eventually conceded that she was indeed accepted. Jessie graduated in 1920. She was the only woman given a degree that day. She moved her home and dental practice a total of three times, and practiced dentistry for almost fifty years before retiring in 1969 because of arthritis.
Jessie had moved her practice to its final place on 80 Munroe Street in
Roxbury. The above tax record is from a decade later. She is listed as both the
business owner and the homeowner of the property.
Street Record, 1939, Personal and Real Estate tax records, Collection 2410.003, Boston City
Blog post by Monica Haberny, City Archives Outreach Intern