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ADA to mark sesquicentennial with year-long celebration

In August 1859, 26 men representing several existing dental associations gathered at Niagara Falls, N.Y., and formed what would become the American Dental Association.

In 2009, 150 years later, the ADA, its constituent and component societies and its more than 156,000 members will commemorate that momentous occasion through a wide range of events and activities.

The ADA's sesquicentennial celebration actually will kick off at this year's annual session in San Antonio, build through the coming year and culminate in events surrounding the 150th annual session in Hawaii, October 2009.

Those planning the celebration hope it will engender "a heightened sense of pride in our longevity and our record of improving the health of our patients over the years," said Dr. Walter F. Lamacki, a past ADA trustee from Illinois and chair of the sesquicentennial planning committee.

"Implicit in our message is that the ADA will continue to serve the public and our members for generations to come," added Dr. Lamacki, editor of the Chicago Dental Society's journal "Review."

The planning committee is working in cooperation with the Board of Trustees and the Council on ADA Sessions.

A 'who's who' of the ADA sesquicentennial committee

Dr. Walter F. Lamacki, a past ADA trustee from Illinois and current editor of the Chicago Dental Society's publication "Review," is chair of the volunteer committee of dentists planning the ADA's 150th anniversary celebration.

Dr. Murray D. Sykes, the Association's 4th District trustee, is the Board of Trustee's liaison to the committee. A small cross-section of ADA staff is assisting the committee.

Committee members include:

• Dr. Jack Conley of Glendale, Calif., past editor of the Journal of the California Dental Association;
• Dr. Jack Gottschalk of Cincinnati, a renowned dental historian and past president of the Ohio Dental Association;
• Dr. Brandon Maddox of Springfield, Ill., the 2009 chair of the ADA Committee on the New Dentist;
• Martha Philips of Atlanta, executive director of the Georgia Dental Association;
• Dr. Jeanne C. Sinkford of Washington, D.C., associate executive director of the American Dental Education Association.

Helping out as consultants on the commemorative coffee-table book are Dr. Clifton Dummett of Los Angeles and Dr. Malvin Ring of Rochester, N.Y.  

"The ADA sesquicentennial is a critical milestone in the history of our profession and in the life of our Association," said Dr. Mark J. Feldman, ADA president. "We hope that all our members across the country will join us in celebrating 150 years of excellence in service to our profession and our patients. We can all take great pride in our accomplishments and in our contributions to the nation's health."

What follows are descriptions of materials being developed and events planned to commemorate the Association's 150th anniversary.

Logo and signage: The sesquicentennial logo, which appears above, will be used all through the coming year, starting at this year's annual session, Oct. 16-19, where it will be on display at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Logos, signage and other materials also will be made available to state and local dental societies to help them join in the celebration.

Commemorative pin: The Council on ADA Sessions has developed a commemorative pin that will be distributed at both the 2008 and 2009 annual sessions. The pins will be offered free of charge at the ADA Pavilion in the convention center, both this year and next.

Coffee-table book: A professionally written and produced, hardcover coffee-table-type book exploring the history of the ADA and the dental profession is in the works. The book is expected to be completed and available for sale in limited quantity by June 2009, the price to be determined. More about this later.

Special supplement to JADA: The Journal of the American Dental Association is preparing a special supplement commemorating the sesquicentennial, to be packaged and mailed with the June 2009 edition of JADA. Dr. David Chernin, editor of the Journal of the History of Dentistry, is serving as guest editor of the supplement, which will focus mainly on the historical advancement of dental science.

Gala event: Also in June 2009, a black-tie gala event marking the anniversary will be held in Chicago, coinciding with the June meeting of the Board of Trustees.

National Museum exhibit: MouthPower, a traveling exhibit developed by the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry, is expected to be on display from June through August 2009 in the lobby of ADA Headquarters in Chicago.

Public outreach: A subcommittee has been tasked to identify ways to showcase dentistry's accomplishments by piggybacking with existing activities—Give Kids A Smile, for example, and National Children's Dental Health Month—and also through unique sesquicentennial events. More about that soon.

Media outreach: News releases, fact sheets, video footage, satellite feeds, newspaper inserts and more will be prepared and distributed to media outlets nationwide. These materials will stress dentistry's achievements over the years and the profession's contributions to good health.

Anniversary Web site: A special anniversary section of the ADA's Web site,, will debut within the next several weeks to provide news updates and background information on the sesquicentennial. The Web address for the site will be made available as soon as the section goes live. Watch for it on

2009 Annual Session: The sesquicentennial celebration will culminate with a major event—still in the planning stages—at the 150th annual session in Hawaii next year.

Dr. John S. Findley, ADA president-elect, will be installed as president in San Antonio this month and preside over the 2009 annual session in Hawaii.

"Dentistry has come a long way, thanks to the efforts of the countless men and women who have contributed to our profession over the years," Dr. Findley said of the sesquicentennial.

"As we pause to reflect on our accomplishments," he added, "we must rededicate ourselves to an even better future. The past is prologue, but the future belongs to us and to the generations of dentists to come."

Planning for the sesquicentennial is still in progress, so keep an eye out for updates to this report on and in the ADA News.