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

Identifier: autogend1e2792

  • Staff Only
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 xlink: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 xlink: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 original collection is open to researchers during Library hours, Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM.


From the Collection: 6 Boxes ; (2 linear feet)


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

Repository Details

Part of the Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center Repository

303 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago IL 60611-3008 US