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Sindecuse Museum

Faith Sai So Leong

San Francisco Call article featuring Faith Leong, 1907

San Francisco Call article featuring Leong, September 15, 1907. Courtesy of the University of California, Riverside.

Faith Sai So Leong (1884-1929) 
DDS 1905 College of Physicians and Surgeons, San Francisco

Recognizing Her Talents

Faith Leong, a Chinese immigrant, was adopted by an English teacher in San Francisco at age 13. Educated, dexterous and mechanically minded, Leong was encouraged to pursue dentistry by a dentist cousin.

When she enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco, it was her first experience in an American classroom where she was also the only woman.

A Ready Market

The first Chinese woman to become a dentist in America, Leong was featured in The San Francisco Call in 1907 (pictured). Her primary clientele was in San Francisco’s Chinese-American community. When the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake, she relocated with that community to Oakland while the city was being rebuilt, and returned to San Francisco in 1910.

Sadly, Leong’s life was cut short when she was hit by a car in 1929 at age 45.

 

 

 

Faith Leong in her graduation regalia

Faith Sai So Leong in her graduation regalia. Photo courtesy of the collection of Edwin Owyang, MD and Eric Owyang, PharmD. Click to view larger.

Faith Leong in traditional Chinese garb

Leong in Chinese garb. Photo courtesy of the collection of Edwin Owyang, MD and Eric Owyang, PharmD. Click to view larger.

Formal portrait of Faith Leong

Formal portrait of Leong. Photo courtesy of the collection of Edwin Owyang, MD and Eric Owyang, PharmD. Click to view larger.