The AJO-DOand the history of orthodontics

As a longtime devotee of orthodontic history, I was curious to learn how much the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics ( AJO-DO ) had done to record the history of our specialty. After receiving a list of orthodontic history articles from American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) librarian Jackie Hittner going back to 1966 and using my own book, Who Was Who in Orthodontics , to extend the search to 1915, I can report just how much the Journal has done: “a lot!” Didn’t Angle say, “Nobody can know much of a science unless he understands its history”?

I was able to identify almost 200 articles covering some aspect of our history (for multiple-part articles, 1 installment = 1 “paper”). Excluded were obituaries, memorials, VIP profiles (other than Angle’s), short letters to the editor, articles containing only brief historical accounts incidental to the primary subject matter, or anything published after December 2014. Although it is true that much history can be gleaned from the literature of the time, only articles about past times are included in this survey.

These histories cover an extensive gamut of topics from, alphabetically, the AAO to women in orthodontics. The topic appearing most frequently was the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO), with 13 hits; followed by the AAO with 12; orthodontic history in general, 10; and treatment, 10. The AJO-DO wrote about itself 9 times, and the Angle School was the subject of 8 articles. Other institutions covered were the universities of Illinois and Michigan, and the Curriculum II Program at the University of California.

As for authors, who were these biographers of the bygone? What was their motivation? Was it a desire to relive the “good old days”? Did these elder statesmen think that their reflections would be a source of amusement to younger colleagues? Or was it done for the thrill of overturning the unturned stone?

Some were not even dentists, much less orthodontists. Before Shankland’s memorable book, The American Association of Orthodontists , was published, this lay historian first wrote about us in the April 1969 issue. Wilton M. Krogman was a forensic anthropologist who reported on orthodontic growth research in April 1973; Claude G. Matasa, founder and president of the Ortho-Cycle Company, wrote (with T. M. Graber) “Angle, the innovator, mechanical genius, and clinician” for the April 1990 issue.

Three were not Americans. Harold Chapman, from England, was one of Angle’s early students and the first to practice orthodontics in his native country. He wrote “Orthodontics: Fifty years in retrospect” for the June 1956 issue. Another Briton, Sheldon E. Friel, related, during a Golden Anniversary Luncheon reported in the August 1960 issue, his experiences as the first specialist in the British Isles. And from Japan, I found the article “Looking back and forward through my career in orthodontics” by teacher, researcher, and Ketcham Award winner Fujio Miura in the May 2000 issue of the AJO-DO .

The Journal ‘s historical output can be divided roughly into 4 periods of approximately a quarter century each.


In 1915, when founding editor Martin Dewey approached Bernhard W. Weinberger to write some history to flesh out the pages of his struggling journal, the International Journal of Orthodontia , he did not expect the gush that flowed from the neophyte historian’s pen. His request was answered with no fewer than 36 articles that appeared in a series titled “Evolution of orthodontia and steps in its development” from September 1915 to August 1922 (by which time the name had been changed to the International Journal of Orthodontia, Oral Surgery and Radiography ). In so doing, Dewey was assured of enough material for the Journal ‘s early issues. In 1926, Weinberger’s articles were published in book form.

As would be expected, Weinberger’s coverage was all-inclusive, devoting a goodly amount of space to primitive dentistry and orthodontics (but heavily laden with quoted material) and cautioning that “this history must have, for its foundation, medicine, then dentistry, and last orthodontia.” History was just a segment of his writing, and writing was just a segment of his wide interests, which included such diverse hobbies as collecting moths and carving miniature dental chairs in ivory. We salute the man who got our 100-year chronicle off with a bang!

Between Weinberger’s last article in 1922 and 1939 when H. C. Pollock picked up the editor’s pencil, who else but 4 of our orthodontic pioneers could continue the momentum: Richard Summa (July 1930), Frank M. Casto (October 1930), Weinberger (December 1934), and Benno E. Lischer (June 1935). For the October 1939 issue, Pollock decided to publish the papers given at the closing meeting (in May of that year) of the Eastern Association of Graduates of the Angle School of Orthodontia in New York City. Of the 6 papers, 5 dealt with the history of the Angle School and one (again, by Weinberger) with the association itself. The Eastern Association was but 1 of 4 associations founded by Angle, thereby qualifying him to paraphrase an old nursery rhyme: And everywhere that Angle went/A clique was sure to grow.

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Apr 6, 2017 | Posted by in Orthodontics | Comments Off on The AJO-DOand the history of orthodontics

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