Guide to the Kern Dental Equipment Collection

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0479
Creators:
Kern, George Robert, 1894-1962 (cabinet maker, machinist)
Kern, George Robert, Jr., 1919-1987
Medical History, Division of (NMAH, Smithsonian Institution).
Dates:
1936-1970
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
3 Cubic feet
9 boxes
Repository:
Blueprints, drawings, patent applications, patents, product photographs, correspondence, bills and receipts, advertising, and published articles related to the Kerns' products. The bulk of the material, 1949-1958, is from George Kern's files. It primarily relates to the development and marketing of the Dentagraph and high speed dental drills before the formation of the Fairfax Manufacturing Company in 1957.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection includes blueprints and drawings, patent applications, patents, product photographs, correspondence, bills and receipts, advertising, and published articles related to the Kern's products. The bulk of the material, dating from 1949 to 1958, is from George Kern's files. It primarily relates to the development and marketing of the Dentagraph and high speed dental drills before the formation of the Fairfax Manufacturing Company in 1957. Most of the FMC material document's Kern's role as a stockholder. However, a large portion of the blueprints and drawings were created by his son or other FMC employees. Several of the patents are George Kern, Jr.'s, and there are copies of other people's patents that relate to the Kerns' patents or inventing activities. The collection has been arranged in chronological order within five series.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is divided into five series.
Series 1: Personal Papers, 1952-1959
Series 2: Product Files, 1945-1968
Series 3: Marketing Records, 1936-1962
Series 4: Client Files, 1949-1958
Series 5: Competitor Files, 1957

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
George Robert Kern was born in 1894 and died in 1962. He was an Arlington, Va., area cabinet maker and machinist who went on to invent several pieces of dental equipment that helped revolutionize the field of dentistry in the early 1950s he was joined in these endeavors by his son, George Kern, Jr.
The elder George Kern began working with dental equipment according to his promotional material because of his own experience with poor fitting dentures. As a machinist accustomed to tight tolerances, he knew it must be possible to make dentures fit better. The result of his work was the Dentagraph and his first patent, granted in 1950. In 1948 a company, Kern laboratory, was incorporated to manufacture the Dentagraph and license the "Dentagraph Tech nic." He also sold dental laboratory benches and dental molding materials under the name Kern Laboratory Equipment Company. Kern's Dentagraph was used by the National Standards Laboratory to test denture materials and the laboratory further improved the device. Apparently Kern received the rights to produce and market this improved tool.
In the early 1950s he began working on high speed dental drills. He developed both a water turbine drill and an air turbine drill. The water turbine drill was manufactured by Bowen Company of Maryland under the trademarked name Turbo Jet. In 1957 the company acquired the rights to this tool and its trademark.
Kern and his son improved on the water turbine drill, and in 1957 formed Fairfax Manufacturing Company (FMC) to produce an air turbine drill and the improved water turbine drill. The senior Kern was a participating stockliolder, receiving stock in return for rights to his inventions. George Kern, Jr., L. W. Hazleton (President of Hazleton Laboratories, a biological (research and development company), and R. G. Henninger (General Manager of Hazleton Laboratories) were the company officers. The stockholders included dentists who also tested the companies new products. Densco, Inc., a Colorado dental equipment company, marketed Kern's products from around 1954, and in 1957 the company began to market Fairfax Manufacturing Company's products.
George R. Kern, Jr., was born in 1919. He left public school in the tenth but took courses in industrial electricity and industrial engineering. He worked for worked the National Bureau of Standards for two years building and installing laboratory equipment. In 1951 he began working at Hazelton Laboratories as Superintendent of Maintenance. He patented several pieces of
Dental equipment and specialized parts for dental equipment. He died in 1987.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by Linda Weaver and Alison Oswald, 1993
Author
Linda Weaver and Alison Oswald
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection donated by John Kern, 1992, December 22.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Kern Dental Equipment Collection, 1936-1970, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Use
Usage or copyright restrictions in effect. Contact the repository for details.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.

Related Materials
The Division of Medicine and Science has several examples of the Kerns' dental equipment, including a Dentagraph and a number of hand pieces.

Custodial History
Custodial History
Transferred to the Archives Center from the Division of Medical History, January 1993.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Cabinetmakers -- 1930-1970 Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dental instruments and apparatus -- 1930-1970 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dental technology -- 1930-1970 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dentistry -- 1930-1970 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dentures -- 1930-1970 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings -- 1930-1970 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inventions -- 1920-2000 -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inventors -- 1930-1970 Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Machinists -- 1930-1970 Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Patents -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blueprints -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Advertisements -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Densco, Inc. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fairfax Manufacturing Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hazelton, L. W. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hazleton Laboratories. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Henninger, R. G. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kern Laboratory Equipment Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Medical History, Division of (NMAH, Smithsonian Institution). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives