The Center for Dental History and Craniofacial Study (CDHCS) maintains four collections to support its mission of collecting and preserving skulls for the understanding of craniofacial biology and evolution, as well as artifacts for the presentation of dental history, and to make these materials available for research and education. The collections consist of the:

  • Spencer R. Atkinson Library of Applied Anatomy Collection
  • P&S Comparative Anatomy Collection
  • A.W. Ward Museum of Dentistry Collection
  • College of Physicians and Surgeons Historical Society Collection

Access to the Center's various collections is by appointment only.

The Center for Dental History and Craniofacial Study (CDHCS) maintains four collections, its mission being to support the study of dental history, craniofacial biology and evolution.

A.W. Ward Museum of Dentistry Collection

The Ward Museum was founded in 1974 in honor of Abraham Wesley Ward, a pioneer of surgical periodontics and a 1902 graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The museum preserves historical and modern artifacts and documents related to the dental profession, including dental furniture, equipment, instruments, products, photographs, films and documents from the mid-1700s to recent times. Donated items are catalogued, with description and donor information maintained in an EmbARK database. (See the CDHCS Accession and Deaccession of Donations webpage for in-kind donation guidelines.)

To promote community outreach, CDHCS maintains an 1870s-era dentist office at the Columbia State Historic Park in Columbia, California, and has loaned circa-1900 dental operatory pieces for the San Mateo County Historical Association's Woodside Store in Woodside, California.

Prior to the school's move to Fifth Street, all the Ward artifacts were photographed. Some artifacts are now viewable via the Virtual Dental Museum website.

Dental students are encouraged to volunteer in helping the curator catalog, inventory and arrange the Ward Museum collection.

Spencer R. Atkinson Library of Applied Anatomy Collection (Atkinson Collection)

This invaluable, world-renowned collection, located in Suite 410 of the dental school, consists of more than 1,500 human crania collected by orthodontist Spencer R. Atkinson primarily from autopsies and biological warehouses. 

The Atkinson Collection offers an extraordinarily well-preserved, age-graded series of more than 400 crania that span from in utero to adult, representing the most complete assemblage of juveniles in the United States. A number of rare cranial syndromes (hydrocephalaly, microcephaly, cranial dysostoses, cleft palate and others) are found among the juvenile and adult individuals.

CDHCS is collaborating with other educational institutions to sponsor the FOROST Web site (forensicosteology.org). Through FOROST, free online access to a metabase containing images and descriptions of skeletal lesions is available to the forensic community and related professions. Examples of trauma, found within the Atkinson Collection, have been contributed to the FOROST metabase. 

Professionals and advanced students are encouraged to submit research applications to study the Atkinson Collection, and Pacific faculty are welcome to request use of a subset of the Atkinson Collection for teaching purposes.

Generous funding from the Pacific Coast Orthodontic Consultation Group has provided support for the preservation of the Atkinson Collection and improved its accessibility as a resource for research and teaching.

College of Physicians and Surgeons Historical Society Collection

The College of Physicians and Surgeons Historical Society collection houses historical documents and artifacts from "P&S" (forerunner of the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry). This collection includes  sets of CHIPS yearbook volumes and Contact Point issues, photographs, lecture notes, grade cards and exams, diplomas, licenses, commencement programs, postgraduate correspondence and alumni events, dating from the late 1800s onwards.

Alumni are urged to contribute towards the Center's goal of maintaining a comprehensive chronicle of P&S and its students by donating photos and documents from their dental school days. Copies of these items are also accepted, or, as an alternative to donation, the Center will return to its owners any documents or photos loaned to us for scanning. As a repository for the school's history, this archive is accessible by appointment to historians, donors, alumni and the families of alumni. The curator is available to respond to specific inquiries by phone or email.

P&S Comparative Anatomy Collection

The P&S Comparative Anatomy collection features a variety of vertebrate skulls including fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Launched in 1923, the Comparative Dental Anatomy Museum grew over the years as students, faculty and alums donated a variety of interesting and diverse specimens. These skulls have served as the basis for important exhibits, research projects and educational outreach programs on dental anatomy, function and evolution.

In hands-on selectives taught at CDHCS, skulls from this collection are used to demonstrate the evolutionary patterns found among vertebrates in their tooth structure, attachment, replacement and cusp composition. The amazing diversity in tooth number and shape, and in cusp wear pattern and jaw mechanics are illustrated and discussed in relation to dietary adaptation. In addition, students investigate specimens from the Order Primates with special emphasis placed on those cranial and dental similarities and differences recognizable among the various species, and, especially, between apes and humans.

James A. Campbell Jr. Dental Radiology Collection

Due to space restrictions in the new building the Campbell Collection has been transferred to the Museum of Radiology and Medical Physics at the University at Buffalo, SUNY.

Patron saint of dentistry
A.W. Ward Museum of Dentistry
Virtual Dental Museum

Our virtual museum, with historical details and functional descriptions provided for many items, brings to life the treasure of the dental school’s A.W. Ward Museum of Dentistry. The Ward collection preserves artifacts and documents dating mainly from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries.

Contact Us

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Dugoni Faculty and Research
415.929.6627

155 Fifth Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105