Lucy Hobbs was born on March 14, 1833 in Constable, New York. She was seventh out of 10 children total. Both her parents passed away when she was 12, forcing her to grow up very quickly by obtaining a job as a seamstress and support her siblings. As she got older, she spent most of her time at her school learning as much as she could. Because of this, she graduated from Franklin Academy in New York and entered the working world by teaching school for ten years in Michigan. Some time during the 10th year, she realized that she was more passionate about the medical field than the teaching community. In 1859, she moved to Cincinnati and began her new journey by applying to medical school at Eclectic Medical College . Unfortunately, she was denied entrance simple because of her gender, especially since at that time women were not believed to have a place in the medical profession.
She did not let that stop her though. She continued to pursue her medical dreams by obtaining her own supervisor from the same college that rejected her, making sure to study everything that was needed. From that moment on, she realized dentistry was her passion and she knew she wanted to continue studying it. She then applied to the Ohio College of Dentistry. When she was refused admission to dental school, she began a private program of study with a professor, Dr. Jonathan Taft, from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery. With the different experiences and helps she had obtained, she decided to apply once more, yet again being rejected. As a response, she opened up her own practice, allowing her to practice dentistry without having to obtain a diploma.
After studying dentistry, Lucy Hobbs started her own practice in Cincinnati in 1861. She soon moved to Bellevue and then McGregor, Iowa, where she spent three years. In 1865, she finally gained all professional recognition and was allowed to join the Iowa State Dental Society, and was sent as a delegate to the American Dental Association convention in Chicago. That November, she entered the Ohio College of Dental Surgery as a senior, where in February 1866, she earned her doctorate in dentistry, becoming the first woman in the United States to do so. She later wrote, "People were amazed when they learned that a young girl had so far forgotten her womanhood as to want to study dentistry."
Hobbs next moved to Chicago where she met James M. Taylor whom she married in April 1867, becoming Lucy Hobbs Taylor. Taylor then convinced her husband to also enter dentistry. The two then moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where they had a very big and successful practice, until James Taylor died in 1886. After her husband's death, Lucy Taylor ceased to be an active dentist, but became more active in politics, campaigning for greater women's rights, until her own death on October 3, 1910. In her time as a dentist, Lucy Hobbs Taylor opened up brand new doors to many women in the future, especially the medical field doors. She believed that her journey was complete by "making it possible for women to be recognized in the dental profession on equal terms with men."
By 1900, almost one thousand women had followed Lucy Taylor into dentistry, an increase many attribute largely to her accomplishments. In 1983, the American Association of Women Dentists honored Taylor by establishing the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award, which it now presents annually to AAWD members in recognition of professional excellence and achievements in advancing the role of women in dentistry.