The seven GDA districts--Central, Eastern, Northern, Northwestern, Southeastern, Southwestern, and Western--are vibrant component societies that provide local support for GDA members. Each district has its own page on the web site. To see a list of the current leaders from a particular a district, click a link at right.

How the districts came to be is an interesting bit of Association history:

June 1916: A Committee appointed to report on the important recommendations contained in the President’s address submitted a report that stated “We recommend that a general committee of five be appointed to formulate plans for the establishing of District Dental Societies, and that this Committee be given power to appoint local committees and adopt bylaws to conform to the National Dental Association.” The Committee was so named, consisting of Drs. C.W. Hughes, Sheppard Foster, Newton Teague, Thomas Hinman, and A.A. Williams.

June 1917: According to the Society’s minutes, “the President extended an invitation for all District Societies to become components of the State Society. Dr. M.M. Forbes, President of the Atlanta Society, known as District #1, made application and was accepted. Dr. A.B. Binns, President of the Columbus Society, known as District #2, made application and was accepted. Dr. Yarbrough, secretary of the Macon Society known as District #3, made application and was accepted. Dr. Chaplin of Savannah, known as District #4, made application, subject to approval of members, and was accepted. Dr. Woodbury of Augusta, know as District #5, made application subject to approval of members, and was accepted. Dr. Atkinson of Brunswick, known as District #6, made application subject to approval of members and was accepted.”

The districts were numbered according to their age; that is, the oldest society was numbered as one and so forth. The Society President, Dr. A.A. Williams Jr., later stated in his president’s address that “I have always believed that it is through district societies that we are to accomplish most good by stimulating the indifferent dentist of each locality.”

June 1918: Switching gears from the reorganization efforts at the 1917 meeting, when consideration was given for the district societies to be formed in order of age, at this meeting’s Executive Council a “motion was made and carried, providing for all component societies to be organized, in accordance with each Congressional District.” It was noted that “a plan by which the District Societies could best perfect their organization was brought up for consideration, and many steps and features were brought out during the discussion … It was further agreed by the Executive Council that the first step necessary was the application to the State Society for a Charter, which must be in writing and signed by two officers or members of local societies of said District, providing such may exist.”

June 1919: During the 51st Annual Meeting of the Georgia State Dental Society, the president presented charters to the District Societies. The charters were accepted by Dr. William Weichselbaum of Savannah for the First District, by Dr. A.A. Williams of Columbus for the Fourth District, by Dr. M.D. Huff of Atlanta for the Fifth District, Dr. P.G. Gates of Macon for the Sixth District, Dr. F.L. Rountree of Cedartown for the Seventh District, by Dr. J.L. Harrison of Gainesville for the Ninth District, by Dr. W.C. Miller of Augusta for the Tenth District, and by Dr. J.B. Donaldson of Dublin for the Twelfth District.

June 1920: The Society completed its plan of re-organization when the Second, Third, and Eleventh District Societies were organized. The Society now had 12 district societies covering the entirety of Georgia with 348 members.

January 1935: The beginning of a near-decade of turmoil boiled up in 1935. A controversy among the Atlanta-based dentists of the GDA’s Fifth District Dental Society, which had raged for some time within the local organization, moved onto the state stage. The dispute involved the operation of the Atlanta-Southern Dental College’s dental clinic. One faction of dentists believed the clinic was being operated for profit, in violation of its charter, with students performing work for members of the public for which excessive fees were charged. This faction convinced the Fifth’s leadership to file a suit against members of the Fifth District who were faculty members and officials of the school, and charge them with aiding and abetting the illegal practice of dentistry. A contentious internal GDA trial ensued (the full trial transcript is on file at the GDA office) which led to the Executive Council voting in 1937 to revoke the charter of the Fifth District Dental Society for violation of Article II of the GDA Constitution which states as one fundamental principle of the organization “the promotion of good fellowship and good feeling among its members.” Dentists in the revoked district were made members at large of the GDA. The GDA also revoked the 1936 charter of the Atlanta District Dental Society, which had been moved into existence by Atlanta dentists disgruntled over the ongoing controversy.

The Fifth District appealed its revocation all the way to the Judicial Council of the ADA, where the GDA ruling was upheld. The revocation was to be considered in effect until the GDA Executive Council was “satisfied that these two societies have settled their differences and have ceased to be a menace to organized dentistry in Georgia.” Dr. Holmes Mason stated during the Council meeting where the revocation vote was taken that the “GDA has come to the conclusion that it will never have a peaceful, scientific meeting again until it has separated the two factions that have wrecked for three years our Association meetings. We have thrown away the scientific attitude and made it a political gathering. We started our meeting this morning one hour and five minutes late because they were all out over the hotel politicking.”

This didn’t end the battles. There were GDA journal editorials running into the 1940s which pleaded for an end to the bad blood. One such article urged dentists in Georgia to come together in peace—if Roosevelt and Congress could do so in order to fight World War II, so surely could Georgia’s dentists. The unsettled state of the dentists in the Atlanta area and the fact that no recognized district existed hindered the GDA in making district appointments to various organizations and may have had a hand in accelerating the re-districting process of 1946.

August 1937: The Fifth District Dental Society filed a petition to incorporate. Despite a legal challenge by the GDA, incorporation was granted on December 21, 1937. The Fifth District Dental Society eventually became the Hinman Dental Society.

October 1945: At an Officers Conference in Macon, GDA officers created a re-districting committee to set the borders of the new districts as well as a plan of operation. All officers speaking for the proposal stated that the purpose of re-organization was to “achieve a better functioning of the district societies, a closer relation of the membership, and a general strengthening and expansion of the scope of activities of the GDA.”

May 1946: Adopting a new constitution, the members of the GDA approved a complete reorganization of the association into seven districts. The first district to announce a meeting as a newly organized group was the Northwestern District, which scheduled a meeting for July 9-10, 1946. There has been some movement in counties from one district to another, but the basic layout remains today.