Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)UB/SOC2
TitleRecords of Birmingham Dental Students' Society
Extent5 boxes, containing 7 volumes and 14 files
DescriptionRecords of Birmingham Dental Students' Society, comprising minutes from meetings between 1896 and 1972; correspondence predominantly sent to officers the society between 1939 and 1973; a roll book which covers 1907 to 1915 and 1919 to 1927; scrapbooks covering the period 1897-1909 and 1908-1952; printed material produced by the society, mainly between 1931 and the 1950s, although there are examples of printed material from 1970-1, 1980 and 1994; printed histories produced to mark the 60th and 100th anniversaries of the establishment of the society; graduate newsletters from 1973 and 1975; and a small amount of miscellaneous material dating from between 1950 and the 1970s.

These records form a useful source for understanding the functions and the social activities of the society over a lengthy time period. The functional operations of the society are documented particularly by the minutes of the meetings, and the annual reports and balance sheets. The minutes are especially useful for explaining the issues dealt with by the society and the results of committee elections. The official printed histories and society graduate newsletters show the wider importance of the society outside of its current members. Records of social events organised by the society include programmes and correspondence relating to Annual Dinners and the booking of guest speakers as well as membership cards. Although the records cover the period 1896 to 1994, the bulk of the material dates from 1896 to the 1950s, and survival is only sporadic after this period.
ArrangementArranged into two series, Administrative Records and Other Society Records.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below. A paper copy is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department
Access StatusOpen
Creator NameUniversity of Birmingham Dental Students' Society
Administrative HistoryThe University of Birmingham Dental Students' Society was formed in 1886 following a suggestion by John Humphreys, secretary of the Dental School, who persuaded Charles Sim, the senior Honorary Dental Surgeon at the hospital, to become the first president of the society. The first meeting was held on 4 November, at which a paper on 'Extraction and its Attendant Accidents' was read by W. Palethorpe. The minutes of the Society relating to the first ten years of its life are lost, and surviving records date from 1896, although reports of the meetings for the first two sessions are printed in the British Journal of Dental Science.

Although no specific aims of the society were stated, it is likely that isolation from the rest of the university united the group. Dental students studied at the Dental School and Dental Hospital which have always been separate from the Medical School and other university buildings, occupying premises at Newhall Street from 1905 to 1964 and at St Chad's Queensway from 1964. Humphrey Humphreys, who served as president of the society from 1920-1921 and was appointed Professor of Dental Surgery at the university in 1935, was keen for the Dental Hospital and Dental School to be located near the Medical School and university buildings to attain a corporate identity. Plans and estimates for this move were prepared by 1938 but were abandoned on the outbreak of the Second World War. The feeling of isolation was largely overcome in the 1970s when the post of Group Liaison Officer was created by the society. The post holder sat on several committees of the Guild of Students, including the Guild Executive Committee. The Commitee always included a President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. Over time, positions such as Chairman, BDSA Rep, Chairman of Entertainment and Women's Representative were created and elected each year. From 1933, a permanent official or trustee was appointed, to act as advisor in financial and other matters, which enabled continuity to be maintained, unusual in a student society. From 1942 onwards, a student chairman was added to the list of officials. They were a student elected whose duty was to preside at all ordinary meetings of the society. In 1959, a list of Honorary Life Members was presented to the committee including R.A.Cohen, Major Flachner (US Army) and Professor Humphrey Humphreys.

During the early years of the society, it seems to have primarily focused on organising clinical meetings at which papers were read and living cases, models and instruments shown, and in organising social events including concerts and dinners. Rules of the society were drawn up regarding meeting times, membership, subscription fees and the power of individual members. These rules were continually revised, though the format of meetings was maintained throughout the period, and some social events such as annual dinners and prize distributions continued to be held. Conversaziones were regularly held during the early years of the society. The society also made efforts to deal with student complaints about teaching and facilities, and a Dental Students' Representative Committee was formed in 1900 to bring grievances to the notice of the university authorities. In 1905, A W. Wellings suggested that a library be formed and two years later a catalogue was printed listing about 130 volumes. The books were house in bookcases presented by the honorary staff. It was expected that each student when qualified should present a book to the library, but this custom was gradually abandoned.

From late 1914 to October 1919, ordinary meetings were held as usual, but social functions were postponed. Only four meetings were held during this period, as so many students and staff were away on war service, and normal activities of the society did not resume until October 1919. Social functions were well attended during the inter-war years, and at the annual meeting of the society in 1921 a sports committee was set up with representatives for eight sports: rugby, football, cricket, tennis, hockey, swimming, atheletic sports and boxing. In 1936, another new activity for the society was created in which debates were held on various subject chosen and members were expected to speak impromptu on the given subject. Compared to the impact of the First World War, the only alteration to the society's activities during the Second World War was a decision that social activities should be omitted but scientific meetings were to carry on as far as possible. During the 1970s, the separate rugby, football and hockey teams disappeared as these were incoporated with the university medical teams.. On 4 November 1986, the Society celebrated one hundred years of exitsence. It was commemorated by a civic reception and a dinner at the Birmingham Council House by permission of the Lord Mayor.

The Birmingham University Dental Students' Society still exists, although it is generally known as BUDSS, Birmingham University Dental Students' Society. It is open to all dental students and advertises freshers' week events that are organised to help integrate new students into university life. The committee is elected each year at the AGM and is mainly composed of 4th year students with representatives from each student year and also from the School of Hygiene & Therapy, and Biomaterials. A member of staff is elected as President. A variety of activities are planned and organised each year by BUDSS for all dental students. These range from cricket and football matches to an annual pub crawl in Stratford. The highlight of the year is the Student Ball, usually held in February. Members of BUDSS represent dental students on committees within the School of Dentistry, for example, staff - student liaison committee and also the Curriculum Development Committee.

Sources: 'One Hundred Years: A History of the University of Birmingham Dental Students' Society' written by R.A.Cohen and Anne H.Davey, 1986. Information about the current Birmingham Dental Students' Society comes from the following website:
Custodial HistoryPreviously collected by and stored at the University's Ronald Cohen Library at the Birmingham Dental Hospital
AcquisitionThe records were acquired in July 2006 and were transferred to Special Collections with other material that relates to the Birmingham Dental School.
Archival NoteDescription prepared by Sian Evans, June 2011, in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000 and in-house cataloguing guidelines.
Related MaterialSpecial Collections, Cadbury Research Library hold the archives of the University of Birmingham and its predecessor colleges. These include records of other student and departmental societies.