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Celebration Days in March

March 25, 2024

Continuing our National Days series, the month of March is filled with quirky, delightful, and interesting days. You can check out this month’s exhaustive list at, the calendar which we are referring to for this series. Some National Days are fun and exciting, while others are not quite so.

March 6 is National Dentist’s Day, and odds are that some of you will visit yours sometime this month. This day was established as a token of appreciation for those professionals who help keep our teeth healthy and fix any and all oral ailments! Here at the IHS, we’ve digitized a plethora of materials relating to Indiana dentists, including numerous images and the Journal of Indiana State Dental Association collection—Indiana Dental Association Journals Collection.

Indiana Women’s Prison Dentist’s Office. Larry Foster Collection, P0569, cropped.

To some, this dated dental chair and unit from the 1950s probably looks like a sinister torture device—a purgatory and source of insurmountable dread. Dentophobia, as it’s called, is quite common, and the anxiety keeps many from seeking out necessary dental care. While some of the tools and apparatuses are not too different from modern dental equipment, this exam chair looks much more uncomfortable than most you’ll find yourself in today. This image was taken at the Indiana Women’s Prison, which was located at 410 N. Randolph Street, Indianapolis.

Dentist at Morgan Health Center. Flanner House of Indianapolis Collection, P0303.

This image was taken at the Herman G. Morgan Health Center, founded in 1947. The health center was an extension of the broader Flanner House social services organization that strove to support the local community, particularly Indianapolis’s underserved African American population. Pictured is Dr. Frank Chowning with two hygienists as he examines a little girl’s baby teeth. The organization understood that oral health is just as vital as all other areas of health, and dental care was offered as part of comprehensive healthcare services.

Griffith Block, 1924. W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection, P0130, cropped.

This century-old photograph depicts the Griffith Block building at 36-38 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis. Erected in 1872, the building was demolished in the 1990s but is now at the site of the Circle Centre Mall after the façade was reconstructed. A dental office occupied the second story in the twenties and thirties. With its Italianate façade and gaudy signs, the exterior looks very different from the often sterile-looking and cleanly landscaped dental offices of today. The signs flanking the second-story windows read, “Peoples Dentists[:] Painless Methods,” the slogan an obvious attempt to assuage dentophobia! Even a hundred years ago, people were afraid of the dentist.

Though March 6 has passed us by, don’t forget to thank your friendly dentist for all they do the next time you visit them. As noted above, there are lots of days to celebrate in March, so we wanted to highlight one more.

(From left to right) Greenwood School of Terre Haute Band and Instructor; Hancock County Military Regiment Band; Students at Indiana Music Co. Martin’s Photo Shop Collection, P0129; Mitchell Printing Co. Collection Photographs, P0003; Larry Foster Collection, P0569.

March 4: National March(ing) Music Day is fittingly in March! For many, marching music conjures up memories of middle and high school marching bands, from drum harnesses to elaborate uniforms guaranteed to be too thick for the weather. Perhaps these images will be nostalgic for any retired marching musician.

As a nod to March’s National Days, listen to some John Philip Sousa marching tunes to soothe your mind before that looming root canal or cavity filling. Please keep an eye on the IHS blog site for future monthly installments highlighting the National Day Calendar dates brought to you by the Reference Services Department here at the Indiana Historical Society.

Cooper Davis is an Assistant Librarian at the IHS. His favorite book is Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, and among other eccentricities, he can recite multiple Sylvia Plath poems by heart.

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