Henderson_Olive_Myrtle_dent_150In recognition of Black History Month, during the four weeks of February, we are sharing weekly spotlights of African American graduates from Northwestern’s medical and dental schools. These alumni made significant contributions to the field of medicine, forging the way for many generations to come.

Information provided by the Galter Health Sciences Library. Library Notes, 2014.

Olive Myrtle Henderson, 1908 DDS, a native of Chicago was born in 1877. As a young woman, Dr. Henderson was inspired by her dentist, Ida Gray Nelson Rollins, DDS, graduate of the University of Michigan in 1890. Dr. Nelson Rollins was the first female African American dental graduate in the United States. Following Dr. Nelson Rollins’ example, Dr. Henderson completed her dental education at Northwestern University Dental School and graduated in 1908. She was the first female African American to graduate from Northwestern with a dental degree and the second female African American to practice dentistry in Chicago.

Dr. Henderson married Thomas Sterling Officer, MD, in June 1911. She opened a private practice on the South Side in 1912, and was active in the National Association of Colored Women and in her church, St. Thomas Episcopal, on South Wabash Avenue.

She retired in 1948 after 40 years in practice and died June 14, 1957.

For more information on this and other history blog entries, please contact Galter Health Sciences Library at ghsl-specialcollections@northwestern.edu.