Leda Bruce Hurst, DDS
Credit: Collection of South Carolina State Museum
Leda Bruce Hurst, DDS (1894-1975) of Anderson was the first licensed woman dentist in South Carolina.
Hurst began learning dentistry at an early age from her father, who was a dentist. She recalled pulling her first tooth at age 10. She later joined her husband at the Atlanta Southern Dental College, one of only three women in the class. After receiving her diploma in 1919, Hurst returned to Anderson where she and her husband practiced for more than 53 years.
During most of her career, Hurst was the only woman dentist in the state. Being a pioneer in the medical field she faced many challenges, not the least of which was skepticism among potential patients and her colleagues. She never wavered in her passion for her chosen profession of dentistry. In 1944 when she was interviewed by a local reporter and commented that, “A woman competing in a man’s field has to be good. Usually she has to be better than the men because she has that handicap of being a woman. . . It requires determination and certainly a will to win. You have to look discouragement right in the eye and dare it to do its worst.”