Annie Stout held a special place in the hearts of students and faculty in the early years of the School of Dental Medicine, as well as for many years after she retired.
After Stout and her husband Noah moved from Chester County to Philadelphia in 1866, they became caretakers of a dental professor’s Center City home and office.
In 1878, Stout began working at what was known at the time as the Dental Department of the University of Pennsylvania. As the supervisor of the Operative Clinic Room, Stout was in charge of distributing medicine and materials used by dental students in their training. When students needed dental filling materials such as tin foil and gold foil, it was Stout who provided the items.
At the beginning of her time at Penn, Stout dashed from one chair to another, asking what materials students needed. Students who wanted gold or tin foil would call out, “Gold, Annie!” or “Tin, Annie!” So, she became known as “Gold Annie.”
Supply requests were eventually streamlined with the creation of a distribution office that Stout headed, requiring students to make a formal request to the office for materials. But, even with the new system in place, her nickname stuck. Everyone in the department still called her “Gold Annie.”
A resident of 41st and Ludlow streets in West Philadelphia, Stout was employed by the Dental Department for 27 years, until her health began to worsen. When she retired in 1905, faculty and students helped place her in the Home for Aged and Infirm Colored Persons in Philadelphia, where she lived until she passed away in 1909.
In the Dental alumni annual magazine of 1909-10, Dean James Truman paid tribute to Stout, citing her knack for remembering students’ names long after they graduated, how her kindness endeared her to students and faculty, and how they all appreciated her support.
“She always had a cheery word for the disturbed student, and encouragement in his difficulties. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the alumni have never forgotten her, and at the annual reunions Annie was always remembered by a gift of money, and this continued up to the time of her final illness,” Truman wrote.
For more information about this and other historical events at Penn, visit the University Archives online.