Oral Histories

Interview of Reidar F. Sognnaes

Founding dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry. Recognized for his work in hard tissue and forensic dentistry.
Dentistry's Founding Dean
Science, Medicine, and Technology
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Administration
UCLA Faculty
Goodfriend, Judi
Sognnaes, Reidar F.
Persons Present:
Tapes I to V: Sognnaes and Goodfriend; Tapes VI to VII: Sognnaes, Goodfriend, and Michael Pretzinger operated the recording equipment.
Place Conducted:
Tapes I to V: School of Dentistry, Room B3-069, UCLA. Tapes VI to VII: School of Dentistry, television studio, UCLA.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Judi Goodfriend, editor/writer, UCLA Health Sciences Communications. B.S., journalism, University of Colorado. M.S., journalism, Northwestern University.
Processing of Interview:
The verbatim transcript was edited by Bernard Galm, senior editor. The manuscript was checked for accuracy and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, spelling, and verification of proper names. The final manuscript retains the same order as the original tape recordings. Words or phrases introduced by the editor have been bracketed. Sognnaes died before editing of his oral history was completed. Dr. Robert B. Wolcott, a close friend and colleague of Sognnaes, reviewed the transcript and answered queries on dental matters. Mrs. Edel Sognnaes supplied spellings of names and verified sections relating to Sognnaes's personal family history. The table of contents was prepared by Galm. The interview history was prepared by Goodfriend and David P. Gist, editorial assistant. Gist also compiled the index.
9 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Birth in Bergen, Norway; education at Leipzig University; qualifying examinations at University of Oslo; admission to dental school; dental schooling; return to medical school; joining scientific expedition to Tristan da Cunha; islanders' source of fluoride; internship at Forsyth Dental Center; initial impressions of America; Carnegie fellowships at University of Rochester; marriage to Edel Holand; Stafford L. Warren; political atmosphere in prewar Norway; Dean George Whipple; war service; educational differences between Norway and America; offer of Harvard University professorship; earning the D.M.D.; Charles A. Brackett Professor of Oral Pathology Chair; dental curriculum at Harvard; associate deanship at Harvard; offer from UCLA; effect of California move on family; starting the new School of Dentistry; assistance of Dorothy Good; seeking funds for research and teaching facilities; state support; goals as a dean of dentistry; choosing site for dental school; Center for the Health Sciences concept; planning academic programs and physical facilities; University of California President Clark Kerr curbs research push; setting up school on Harvard model; faculty recruitment; joint appointments in medicine and public health; recruiting first dental class; first dental class starts in 1964; class ranks first nationally on student qualifications; first woman dental student; Robert Wolcott, the "gold foil man"; gold foil expertise, a state board requirement; establishing the Venice Dental Clinic; Dental Research Institute; idea for a mobile children's clinic; school's interrelationship with Center for the Health Sciences; decision to resign as dental dean; heart attack and recovery; getting an American dental license; officer of the UCLA Faculty Center; research on George Washington's dentures; scanning electron microscopy and investigative identification; examining Washingtonian dental relics; forensic work on remains of Hitler and Martin Bormann; personal contributions to advancement of dentistry; Dental Research Institute as vehicle for interdisciplinary collaboration; influence of Master Plan for Higher Education in California, 1960; University of Southern California School of Dentistry; board issue; state-supported UCLA vis-à-vis privately-endowed Harvard; Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy's idea of the integrated health sciences.