Born September 15, 1846, in Oswego, New York, Dr. George Franklin Grant came to a family born into slavery. His childhood isn’t detailed besides his apprenticeship with Dr. Albert Smith at 15. His career had him running errands and like for the practitioner until Smith noticed his interest in dentistry. Due to this training, he enters Harvard Dental School at 21. He would excel here and grade three years later in 1870, becoming only the second Black person to earn a dental degree.
George F. Grant became the first Black person to become a faculty member at Harvard when he was assigned to the Dental School’s mechanical dentistry department. He remained with Harvard for 19 years demonstrating techniques and prosthetics. His area of expertise was in a procedure that treated cleft palates thus reversing the eventual effects of speech impairment.
Grant’s work at the school leads to developments in nonsurgical techniques for children. He is responsible for the creation of the oblate palate which naturally trained the patient’s palates to form into proper alignment. By the end of his time at Harvard, Dr. George F. Grant had seen over a hundred cases of cleft palate and treated most of them successfully. He would also serve as a co-founder and president of Harvard’s Odonatological Society. Grant’s dedication to both the dental field and to Harvard led to him becoming the president of the school’s Dental Alumni Association.
He wouldn’t stop at innovating dentistry. Dr. George F. Grant was also a keen inventor and would put his mind to work outside of the medical field and into athletics.