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One man, two very large hats

December 10, 2012

By James Berry

Dr. King 
The first editor of The Journal of the American Dental Association was Dr. Otto U. King (1873-1951) of Huntington, Ind., who held the post from 1913 until 1925.

Then as now, the editorship was a big job, but Dr. King had an even larger role in the life of the Association. For much of the time he served as editor, he also held the office of executive secretary, a post that was forerunner to today's executive director.

Born in Huntington on March 18, 1873, Dr. King graduated from Northwestern University Dental School in 1897 and joined what was then the National Dental Association, now the ADA.

He became executive secretary of the NDA in 1913 and, with input from a committee formed years before, launched the Official Bulletin, a quarterly publication that would become JADA. For his first few years as secretary and editor, he also maintained a private dental practice, working out of his office in Huntington.

In 1917, The Bulletin went from a quarterly to a monthly, and Dr. King resigned his private practice to devote more time to his work with the Association. He also let go of the proofreader who had been assisting him on the Bulletin and assumed her duties as well as her small salary.

Five years later, in 1922, the National Dental Association became the American Dental Association, and the Official Bulletin became JADA.

The Board of Trustees in 1925 recognized that the combined duties of secretary and editor had become burdensome. The Board appointed a new editor, retaining Dr. King as secretary and business manager until his retirement in December 1927.

Dr. King died on Aug. 13, 1951. He was 78 years old.