Doc Holliday, D.D.S.

Infographic with words describing John Henry

The words above have all been used to describe Wild West legend, Doc Holliday. Mostly remembered for his involvement in the O.K. Corral shootout, which has been memorialized in popular film and media, Doc has come to represent the tough, “kill or be killed” nature of the era. Over time, tales of his dangerous nature have grown, creating a persona that has taken on a life of its own. But Doc Holliday was not just a fictional character, he was a real person that beat the harrowing odds of survival many times. Consider the following words, also used to describe Doc:

Infographic with descriptive words about John Henry

In investigating Doc Holliday’s life, it becomes apparent that this was an individual that crossed boundaries and defied the typical categories of “good vs. bad,” or more appropriately, “law vs. outlaw.” Even today, he does not seem to fit into the scripts that have been written for him. Doc Holliday was so much more than a quick draw. He was a serious dental professional, forced by a tragic medical diagnosis to leave home and enter a world previously unknown to him.  Although tales of gun fights and gambling make for good stories, exploring Doc’s life through a different lens is just as captivating. 

This exhibit seeks to highlight the life of the most famous dentist of the West, Doc Holliday, with a specific focus on this sometimes-forgotten aspect of his story. By exploring his childhood, dentistry during his lifetime, dental school requirements, and career, a new picture of Doc emerges; one that is just as necessary as the rest to his narrative. Learn how Doc earned his moniker, and why he seemingly “gave up the business of filling teeth with gold for that of filling men with lead.”

Noah H Rose Supposed Photograph of John Henry Doc Holliday from the 1880s

A photograph by Old West photographer, Noah H. Rose commonly used to represent Doc Holliday, although a lack of evidence adds doubt to this assumption.

 

Guest curated by Sarah K. Sanders