Black History: George Franklin Grant

Featured, History & Politics

George Franklin Grant (September 15, 1846 – August 21, 1910) was the first African American professor at Harvard. He was also a Boston dentist, and an inventor of a wooden golf tee.

He was born on September 15, 1846 in Oswego, New York to Phillis Pitt and Tudor Elandor Grant.He attended the Bordentown School for high school.

He entered the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 1868, and graduated in 1870. He then took a position in the department of Mechanical Dentistry in 1871, making him the Harvard University’s first African-American faculty member, where he served for 19 years. Grant is also famous for his invention of the oblate palate, which is a prosthetic device he developed for the treatment of the cleft palate. He was a founding member and later the president of the Harvard Odontological Society and was a member of the Harvard Dental Alumni Association. Grant was elected president of the Alumni Association in 1881. He died on August 21, 1910 at his vacation home in Chester, New Hampshire of liver disease.

In 1991, the United States Golf Association recognized Grant as the inventor of the modern golf tee, his idea and type of tee that became the standard over ensuing decades.

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