Mary Crutchfield Thompson was one of the first Black women to graduate from Tufts University Dental School, and the first to practice dentistry in the Boston area.

 “The only child of William and Lydia Hatch Crutchfield, she was born in North Carolina and grew up in Cambridge, Mass. After graduation from Tufts in 1930, she established a private practice, worked at the Boston Dispensary, and in addition founded the Children’s Dental Clinic, a low-cost clinic for children held once a week in her home.

Beginning in 1947, she worked for 24 years, first with the title dental assistant, then as a dentist in the Cambridge, Mass., public schools, and for several summers assisted in AKA’s Mississippi Health Project.

In 1948, she married Oscar Thompson and several years later they moved to Natick, Mass., into a previously all-white neighborhood. They actively brought Black and white families together and became founders and charter members of one of the first fair housing committees in the United States.

In 1960 they traveled to Africa; later Dr. Thompson established a scholarship in Nigeria in memory of her mother. In 1938 the press of Boston awarded her a certificate in recognition of her contribution to the community in establishing the Children’s Dental Clinic. She received an outstanding achievement award for her humanitarian services from the NAACP in 1973.

In 1976 AKA, for which she had served as chapter president, established at Tufts Dental School a scholarship for Black female students, named for Dr. Thompson and her lifelong friend and colleague, Dr. Jessie Garnett.”

Description: The Black Women Oral History Project interviewed 72 African American women between 1976 and 1981. With support from the Schlesinger Library, the project recorded a cross section of women who had made significant contributions to American society during the first half of the 20th century. Photograph taken by Judith Sedwick
Repository: Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.
Collection: Black Women Oral History Project
Research Guide:

Read the complete transcript of an interview with
Dr. Mary Thompson here