Good News in History, February 21

155 years ago today, Lucy Hobbs became the first woman in the world to graduate from a dental college, and receive a doctorate in dentistry.

She was denied admittance to two medical colleges in Ohio due to her gender, but a professor agreed to tutor her and encouraged her to practice dentistry. After being denied admission to the Ohio College of Dentistry, a college graduate tutored her so she could continue her studies. Frustrated, she decided to open her own practice, and moved to Iowa in 1861 to do so. Four years later, the same Ohio College decided to lift the ban on women and, instantly, Taylor enrolled as a senior student thanks to her dentistry experience and got her diploma at age 33.

She also had a big and successful practice in Lawrence, Kansas with her husband James Taylor until 1886 when she left the field to become active in the campaign for women’s rights. But it was Lucy Hobbs Taylor’s passion and persistence in dentistry that broke the enamel ceiling for so many women in the future. (1866)

She wrote, “People were amazed when they learned that a young girl had so far forgotten her womanhood as to want to study dentistry.” But, by 1900, almost 1,000 women had followed in Lucy’s footsteps.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Jeanne Calment was born in Arles, France and lived there more than 122 years—the longest confirmed human lifespan in history (1875)
  • The newly completed Washington Monument was dedicated (1885)
  • The New Yorker published its first issue as a sophisticated humor magazine, and soon began featuring serious fiction and journalism (1925)
  • First successful flying car, Waldo Waterman’s Arrowbile made its maiden flight (1937)
  • Edwin Land demonstrated the first “instant camera,” his Polaroid Land Camera, which produced a black-and-white photo in 60 seconds (1947)
  • Winston Churchill helped abolish Identity Cards in the UK to “set the people free” (1952)
  • Four student demonstrators became martyrs as they demanded to establish Bangla as the official language of East Pakistan, sparking a movement which led to the independence of Bangladesh in 1971—a date later declared International Mother Language Day by UNESCO (1952)
  • Francis Crick and James Watson arrived at their historic understanding about the structure of DNA (1953)
  • The Jackson 5 were introduced to the nation with their first appearance on American Bandstand, when 11-year-old Michael sang “I Want You Back” (1970)
  • President Nixon visited China ending 20 years of frosty relations with the USA (1972)
  • Israeli soldiers left the Suez Canal’s west bank honoring a truce with Egypt (1974)
  • Metallica released their third album, the highly influential Master of Puppets, considered by many in the music community to be the best thrash metal album of all time (1986)

On this day 26 years ago, Steve Fossett, a 50-year-old stock broker from Chicago, became the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon. The American businessman, aviator, sailor, and adventurer landed in Saskatchewan, Canada, after taking off from South Korea—and he used the same balloon that successfully carried him across the Atlantic two years earlier. It was the first of many record-setting flights including seven years later when he became the first person to fly around the world alone, nonstop in any kind of aircraft—this time, in a 10-story high balloon for 13.3 days covering 20,482 miles.

2002 Photo by John Mathew Smith &

The man who made his fortune in the financial services industry also competed in endurance events like the Iditarod and Ironman Triathlon. He set records in four other nonstop circumnavigations of the Earth, as a sailor and solo pilot of a flight fixed-wing aircraft. Fortunately Fossett wrote an autobiography before he was killed in a crash in 2007 while piloting a light aircraft over the Great Basin Desert in California. WATCH his interview before the historic flight… (1995)


And Happy 78th Birthday to David Geffen, the head of Geffen records and co-founder Dreamworks. Born to immigrant parents in Brooklyn, the college drop-out began his entertainment career in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency, where he quickly became a talent agent. At age 27, Geffen co-founded Asylum records, an artist-oriented label that signed The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt, and (for 2 records) Bob Dylan. His philanthropy is renown, with gifts of more than a half billion dollars in the fields of higher education, medical research, AIDS, the arts, and theatre. WATCH a video to learn more… (1943)

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