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The historical development of dentistry as a profession in Ontario from the late nineteenth century to the end of the First World War is used as a case study to explore the significance of gender, particularly masculinity, in the formation of professions. Adams argues that gender was central to the establishment of the dental profession. Over time, dentistry developed from being a trade to garnering professional status. The early dentists worked to recruit, and indeed structured the profession in such a way as to recruit, middle-class white men into the profession. Gender and class divisions were drawn upon both to define and legitimate professional roles and claims to professional status; by definition, a professional was a gentleman.
"A Dentist and a Gentleman" uses historical documents including dental journals and dental board and association meeting minutes to detail both the key events in the establishment of the dental profession and the efforts of professional leaders to define and structure their profession to meet the gentlemanly ideal. "A Dentist and a Gentleman" is a fascinating social history for anyone interested in profession creation and gender and professions.