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Correspondence between G.V. Black and F.S. McKay on mottled enamel of teeth., 1907-1915.

Identifier: autogend1e2792

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

The Northwestern University G.V. Black digitized collection contains 43 manuscripts, 100 letters and several photographs covering the period between 1867 and 1915. Some of the more important items in the collection are: correspondence between Dr. Black and Dr. Frederick S. McKay from the turn of the century that focus on mottled enamel of teeth and early hypotheses on water and fluoridation; correspondence, program announcements and other memorabilia from the World Dental Congress held in conjunction with the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893; a manuscript on zoo chemistry.


  • 1907-1915.



Onsite access to the collection is open to researchers during posted library hours without restriction. For the digitized items in this collection, Public Domain Mark 1.0 applies, as they have been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.


From the Collection: 6 Boxes

Language of Materials



Between 1908 and 1915 Dr. Black and Dr. McKay, a practicing dentist in Colorado, had a running discussion concerning mottled teeth, or Colorado Brown Stain. Dr. Black spent the summer of 1909 in Colorado Springs to gather information and make observations. Their work culminated in the publication of Mottled teeth: an endemic developmental imperfection of the enamel of the teeth heretofore unknown in the literature of dentistry. (See: Dental cosmos, 1916; vol. 58, pp. 129-153, 477-484, 627-644, 781-792, 894-904)


After Dr. Black's death, McKay continued their studies and discovered that fluoride in drinking water was the causal agent of the imperfection, noting the effect on enamel, but the lack of dental caries in those who had the condition. This was a critical breakthrough in understanding the etiology and prevention of dental caries. This discovery is the foundation for water fluoridation, which is the single most effective public health measure to inhibit tooth decay.


The correspondence is arranged in chronological order.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original letters kept in Box 4.

Library Details

Part of the Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center Repository

320 E. Superior Ave.
Chicago IL 60611-3008 US