Dentist Drill


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Used by Dr. Frode Norskov Thomsen in Tyler, Minnesota Made by S. S. White Dental Manufacturing Company 1890 – 1920 Metal, fabric, string 2006.054.001 - Gift of Joyce Opperman


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This foot-powered drill belonged to Dr. Frode Norskov (F.N.) Thomsen of Tyler, Minnesota. Dr. Thomsen had his own practice on main street next door to the pharmacy.

Frode was born December 11, 1881, in Ristinge, Langeland, Denmark, and was baptised March 4, 1882, in Ristinge Kirke. He came to the United States as a child when his father was called as pastor at Kronborg, Nebraska. They arrived there July 14, 1887. Frode's father died of pneumonia on April 12, 1891.

By 1899 Frode had saved money and attended Nysted Folk School in Nysted, Nebraska. In the fall of 1900, Frode enrolled in Grand View College in Des Moines, and was there through 1902. There he met Astrid Marie Hendrichsen.

After Grand View, Frode went to Fremont Normal, now known as Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska, where he obtained the necessary credits to enter the Dental Department of the University of Omaha at Omaha in 1903.

During the summers while in dental school, Frode worked as a carpenter. During the last year of school, Astrid came from Chicago to work in Omaha. He graduated on May 31, 1906, was licenced by the State of Nebraska to practice on June 21, 1906. He was living in Omaha at that time. On April 4, 1907, he was admitted to the practice of dentistry in the state of Minnesota, and he moved to Tyler.

Frode married Astrid on October 9, 1907, at Trinity Church in Chicago, Illinois. They had a full life of children, grandchildren, and friends. Astrid died on February 15, 1965. Frode passed away on December 28, 1974.


  • Dentist drill, early 20th century.

  • Detail of foot pedal, which powered the drill.

  • Detail of the cord attachment.


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