Turning Point: 100-Year-Old Records Give Evidence of Revolution in Utah Medical Regulation

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Optometry Certificate for A. R. McIntyre, 1908.

Guest post by Wendy Brimhall

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Dental Board Certificate for William Henry Petty, 1907.

The Utah State Archives recently posted digital images of an interesting set of records from Weber County. Around the turn of the 20th century, the State Legislature began creating laws requiring dentists and optometrists to receive Board of Examiner certificates in order to legally practice. The various laws created during that early period contained several steps for certification. Some of these included passing an examination by the board, being of “good moral character” and filing a copy of the certificate with the county clerk (in this case Weber County).

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Dental Board Certificate for William Henry Petty, 1907.

The requirements changed and expanded with the passing of each new law, making the process more comprehensive (Laws of Utah 1894, 1907, 1909). These laws were an important step in protecting Utahns from quacks and unqualified practitioners.   Not only were these certificates essential then, but they are of historical and aesthetic interest now. They are great tributes to former Utah dentists and optometrists and also keepsakes for family history collections.

(Wendy Brimhall is a student at Brigham Young University, studying Family History. She recently completed a summer internship at the Utah State Archives. During her internship she worked on a number of projects, including organizing, digitizing, and indexing the Dentistry and Optometry Board Certificates.)