A snapshot biography of Jessie Gideon Garnett

Jessie Gideon Garnett, standing fro a portrait, wearing a dress and holding flowers.
Jessie Gideon Garnett

Jessie Gideon Garnett was known to smile. And she was quiet and gentle, tough and courageous. When she came to the Tufts School of Dental Medicine to begin her studies, the Dean assumed there must have been a mistake. “‘Here is my acceptance letter,’” was her reply. 

She graduated in 1919 and opened a dental practice, the first Black woman dentist in Boston. The beginning was difficult. ”When I first started, patients came to the office and saw me. They asked for the dentist. ‘I’m the dentist,’” she would reply. 

But with time her practice grew. She went on to treat patients for almost fifty years, retiring because of arthritis in her hands. 


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Click here to read a snapshot biography of another woman who challenged norms in medicine, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson.