Dartmouth Medicine HomeCurrent IssueAbout UsContact UsSearchPodcasts

PDF Version   Printer-Friendly Version

Vital Signs

Q: When is a desk more than a desk? A: Read on . . .

In 1877, a group of Dartmouth undergraduates presented the retiring College president the Reverend Asa Dodge Smith, an 1830 graduate of Dartmouth with a special gift: a "Wooten cabinet secretary," a fancy name for a very fancy desk. With its "110 compartments, all under one lock and key," the desk created a system in which "order can be obtained, confusion avoided, time saved, vexation spared," as a Wooten Desk Company advertisement put it.

President Smith passed the desk onto his son, Dr. William Thayer Smith, DMS 1879 and dean of the Medical School from 1896 to 1909. Dean Smith, in turn, gave the desk to his son, Thayer Adams Smith, DC 1910. Even though Thayer Smith's children included five DC grads,

one DMS grad, and three doctors, when he died in 1973 his children decided the desk should go back to Dartmouth. Today, the elaborate "cabinet secretary" is on display in a central hallway of the DMS dean's office, for all to enjoy.

Jennifer Durgin

Made of black walnut, with poplar shelves and burl-walnut, satinwood, and curly-maple veneers, this elaborate desk once belonged to Dr. William Thayer Smith, dean of DMS.

If you'd like to offer feedback about this article, we'd welcome getting your comments at DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

This article may not be reproduced or reposted without permission. To inquire about permission, contact DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

Back to Table of Contents

Dartmouth Medical SchoolDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College