SOAS University of London

Blue plaque for pioneering dentist Lilian Lindsay at 23 Russell Square

16 September 2019

Pioneering female dentist Lilian Lindsay has been honoured with an English Heritage blue plaque on the SOAS campus at 23 Russell Square.

Lilian graduated with honours in 1895 from the Edinburgh Dental Hospital and School, becoming the first qualified British woman dentist in Great Britain. She set up in practice first in London and then, on her marriage in 1905 to a fellow dentist, John Lindsay, in Edinburgh.

Picture of EH plaque

In 1920 the Lindsays returned to London – to a flat above the British Dental Association headquarters, at 23 Russell Square, and it remained their home for 15 years. An experienced practice dentist, Lilian focused on research from that point on, publishing over sixty academic publications exploring the history of dentistry, including the book A Short History of Dentistry (1933). She also developed the Association’s dental library from 360 books to 10,000; and collected objects that became the foundation of its museum collection.

Lilian also took a great interest in furthering the fortunes of other women in the profession. She was the first woman to be appointed a branch president of the BDA in 1933 and to be elected President of the BDA in 1946, the same year she was also awarded an OBE.

23 Russell Square is today part of the SOAS campus and houses teaching rooms, IFCELS (International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies), and many of SOAS’s Professional Services teams including Finance and HR.

The London-wide blue plaques scheme has been running for 150 years and was taken on by English Heritage in 1986. Find out more about Lilian’s story here.