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Jonathan Taft
Regent's Proceedings 396

Jonathan Taft was born at Russellville, Brown County, Ohio, September 17, 1820, son of Lyman and Hannah (Waite) Taft. He had the advantages of a common school education up to the age of fourteen, after which he attended an academy for two years.

In 1841 he began the study of dentistry with Dr. George D. Tetor, of Ripley, Ohio, and was graduated from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in 1850.

He practised his profession at Ripley for some years, and then removed to Cincinnati. He was a member of the Ohio Dental College Association from its organization in 1852. He also became a member of the American Society of Dental Surgeons in 1852. He assisted in organizing the American Dental Association in 1859, and was its secretary until 1868, when he was chosen president of the Association. He was also a member of the American Medical Association, and of the International Medical Congress. In 1893 he represented the State of Ohio as a member of the Executive Committee of the World's Columbian Dental Congress at Chicago.

He was Dean of the College of Dental Surgery at the University of Michigan from its organization in 1875 to within a few weeks of his death.

From 1875 to 1891 he was also Professor of the Principles and Practice of Operative Dentistry, and in 1891 his title was changed to Professor of the Principles and Practice of Oral Pathology and Surgery.

Under his long administration of twenty-eight years the college steadily advanced in favor at home and abroad, and was ranked among the foremost dental schools in the world.

In 1856 after a few years assumed sole proprietorship, which continued until January 1900. It was issued quarterly until July 1860, when it became a monthly; and in 1886 its title was changed to "The Dental Register."

In 1859 he published a treatise on Operative Dentistry, which was adopted as a textbook in colleges, and which is relied upon as an authority wherever the science is known. A second edition was issued in 1868, a third in 1877, and a fourth in 1883. In 1881 the University of Michigan conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine.

He was married September 1842, to Hannah Collins, of Ripley. Ohio. Of this union there were six children, three of whom are living: William, Alphonso, and Antoinette (Mrs. Edwards). Mrs. Taft died in April 1888; and in September 1889, he married Mary E. Sabin, who survives him. He died at Ann Arbor, October I6, 1903.

Burke A. Hinsdale and Isaac Newton Demmon, History of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1906), pp. 251-255.

Jonathan Taft, M.D., D.D.S., Professor, and until within a month of his decease, Dean of the Department of Dental Surgery, died suddenly at the age of 83, on the same day as Professor Greene.

When that Department was established in 1875, he was entrusted with the important work of organizing it and he largely shaped its policy and administered its affairs down to the day of his death. Perhaps no member of his profession was more widely known or more generally respected both for his professional knowledge and his pure and attractive character.

Even in his advanced years he set the highest standard of work in his profession. In fact he cherished so lofty ideals that it has proved impracticable to hold the profession generally up to them. But they and we owe him a debt of gratitude for the high aims, which he cherished and for the inspiration he gave to so many of his brethren.