Dr. Harris was born on May 6th 1806 at Pompey, New York. At the age of
seventeen, he moved to Madison, Ohio, joined his brothers, James and John,
a physician and began the study of medicine. In 1824, on passing the Ohio
Board of Medical Censors, he began practicing medicine and surgery in
In 1828, Dr. Harris turned to dentistry, and by 1833 was a student of Dr.
Hayden located in Baltimore. Licensed by the Medical and Chirurgical
Faculty of Maryland, Harris conducted an itinerant dental practice
throughout the South.
In 1839, he was instrumental in establishing the world's first dental
journal, the American Journal of Dental Science, published at Baltimore.
He was its
chief editor and publisher until his death in 1860, uniquely responsible
for the journal that accomplished so much to raise dentistry to the status
of a recognized profession.
Dr. Harris was the cofounder, with Dr. Hayden, of the Baltimore College of
Dental Surgery, the world's first dental school, chartered in 1840. He was
the school's first dean and professor of practical dentistry. After
Hayden's death in 1844, he became the school's second president.
In 1839 , Dr. Harris published The Dental Art: A Practical Treatise on
Dental Surgery. A second edition in 1845 was titled, The Principles and
Practice of Dental Surgery. Eleven editions followed, the last in 1896; it
was the most useful dental textbook of the nineteenth century. 1840 , Dr.
Harris was one of the organizers of the American Society of Dental
Surgeons, the first national dental organization. He was its first
corresponding secretary and its president in 1844. After the disruption of
the society, he was one of the foremost organizers of its successor, the
American Dental Convention, serving as its president in 1856-57. In 1849,
Dr. Harris published his second book, Dictionary of Dental Science, so
fitting it appeared in five editions, the last in 1898. Dr. Harris,
trained in medicine, received the D.D.S. degree through membership in the
American Society of Dental Surgeons. Shurtleff College in Alton, Illinois,
conferred an A.M. degree on him in 1842. In 854, he received an honorary
D.D.S. degree from the Philadelphia Dental College. Dr. Harris, the father
of American dental science and pioneer of dental journalism, died on
September 29, 1860 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Baltimore. The
uncommonly dedicated lives and contributions of Hayden and Harris
exemplify the Longfellow quote, "Great men stand like solitary towers
in the City of God."
The Academy is privileged and honored to induct Dr. Chapin A. Harris into
the PFA International Hall of Fame of Dentistry.