February 25, 2024

Black Entrepreneur History

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Dr. George Franklin Grant – Dentist, Inventor & Entrepreneur

Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History lived an African American man named George Franklin Grant who became an inventor and dentist to later found his own dental office in the city of Boston.

Born on September 15, 1846 in Oswego, New York to parents Tudor Elandor Grant and Marie Grant[1], (some sources refer to the mother being Phillis Pitt), he grew up in a home with a very established father who was a barber[2], but formerly enslaved. He had a good upbringing and great schooling, but due to a disagreement with his father[3], he moved out.

In 1865, he ended up living in the home of Charles Smith in Boston, Massachusetts at the age of 18[4]. Charles Smith was a barber like his father. However, the young Grant wasn’t interested in barbering like his father. He decided he wanted to become a dentist.

It was in 1868 that George Franklin Grant became a dental student at Harvard Dental School after having worked for them as a dental assistant when he first arrived in Boston. He graduated in 1870 as the 2nd African American graduate of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine[5].

From there, George F. Grant went on to become the 1st African American professor at Harvard where he would then co-found the Harvard Odontological Society and become a member and later President of the Harvard Dental Alumni Association in 1881.

He specialized and was an instructor in treatment of cleft palate and cognate diseases, mechanical dentistry, where he would go on to invent the rubber oblate palate in order to treat those with a cleft palate, correcting their speech and chewing.

He’d become vastly successful, in the United States and abroad. He decided to found his own successful dental practice in the city of Boston. Soon, he married Georgina H. Smith when he was 28 years old on April 22, 1874. They remained married and had children.

It was on December 2, 1899 that George F. Grant patented his invention – the Improvement of Golf Tees – a simple and effective tee that didn’t need mounds of sand or someone holding up the tee as in the previous golf tees. He was a fan of golfing and played regularly, so his invention was inspired by his irritation of the previous tees.

This particular tee stands on its own and doesn’t interfere with the carry through during the stroke. Grant’s tee inserts into the ground and lightly provides a place for the golf ball to sit, or be level. The tee also has a wood base. The tee was also made for repeated use.


On August 21, 1910, George Franklin Grant died in Raymond, New Hampshire of Carcinoma of the Liver, or Liver Cancer[6], and was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Arlington, Massachusetts. He was 63 years old.


[1]Census of the state of New York, for 1855. Microfilm. Various County Clerk Offices, New York.

[2]Year: 1860; Census Place: Oswego Ward 1, Oswego, New York; Page: 954; Family History Library Film: 80383

[3]Dear Doctor: https://www.deardoctor.com/articles/pioneering-dentist-invented-the-golf-tee

[4]Census of the state of New York, for 1865. Microfilm. New York State Archives, Albany, New York.

[5]Ivy League Black History

[6]“New Hampshire, Death and Disinterment Records, 1754–1947.” Online index and digital images. New England Historical Genealogical Society. Citing New Hampshire Bureau of Vital Records, Concord, New Hampshire.

Ancestry.com. U.S., School Catalogs, 1765-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

New England Historic Genealogical Society; Boston, Massachusetts; Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915

Photo of Grant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:George_Franklin_Grant_(1870).jpg/ – public domain in USA