Milton Baron Asbell (1913-2003)

Milton Baron Asbell

Milton Baron Asbell was born on August 23, 1913 in Camden, New Jersey and attended his local city schools, graduating from Camden High School in 1931. He enrolled at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in September 1933 in the class of 1937. After a freshman year in which he attained the highest grade in English, Algebra, Plane Geometry, and German, "Mickey" Asbell transferred to the University of Maryland Dental School and graduated with the D.D.S. in 1938.

He interned at the Baltimore City Hospital and returned to Camden to open what was to be an almost fifty year practice in orthodontics in the Camden and Cherry Hill area. When the Second World War broke out, Asbell served in the European Theater as a captain in the U.S. Army Dental Corps between 1942 and 1946. On his return he launched into a remarkably active career that combined his practice, dental education, leadership of national dental organizations, and a prolific publishing in the field of dental history. He was head of the department of Dental History and Literature at the New Jersey College of Dentistry, lectured at the University of Pennsylvania Dental School from 1972, the Einstein Medical Center from 1984, and at Temple University School of Dentistry, where he was also named a Clinical Associate Professor. He served as president of the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry, was a founder of the American Academy of the History of Dentistry, and for many years was the Secretary Treasurer and the strength behind the American Association of Orthodontics. He was also the author of more than sixty articles on the history of dentistry and wrote six books, including the well received A Century of Dentistry: A History of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

Somehow, Mickey Asbell also had time for a warm family life, as well as a host of other civic contributions. He married Selma K. Klienman and the couple had two children, Sara and Yale. He was active in local affairs and was the first chairman of the board for the Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. In 2003 Dickinson College recognized his full career with a unique honorary bachelor's degree to replace the one he never finished in 1937. To celebrate further his full life, his old college dedicated in April of the same year the new Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life at Dickinson College. The Center is located in what was once known as the Sellers House. Milton Baron Asbell died in July 2003 in Haddonfield, New Jersey and was buried at the Crescent Burial Park in Pennsauken, New Jersey. He was eighty-nine years old.

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Dickinson College Archives
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