The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Bryan, Ollie Louise (1871–1932)

Sergey Gordeev
Revised by: Jennifer Bridges
Biography Entry

Ollie Louise Bryan, the first African-American woman to become a practicing dentist in the South, was born in Tennessee on December 28, 1871. She was the daughter of Anderson and Anna Louise (Smith) Bryant. As a young woman she entered Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where she graduated in 1902, the first woman to do so. By 1906 she had married Dr. Felix A. Bryan, a Jamaican native who had become a United States citizen in 1895. The couple moved to Dallas, Texas, where she began practicing as a dentist no later than 1909.

In 1910 the Bryan family was wealthy enough to have a live-in cook and houseboy. Ollie Bryan was an active participant in women's social clubs in Dallas, such as the Priscilla Art Club. She was also one of the seventeen women who organized the Royal Art and Charity Club. In 1916 she retired from dentistry and remained a housewife. After being widowed by her husband, she died on November 23, 1932, in Dallas, where she was buried at Woodland Cemetery.

James Summerville, Educating Black Doctors: A History of Meharry Medical College (University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1983). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • Dentists
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Women

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s


  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Sergey Gordeev Revised by Jennifer Bridges, “Bryan, Ollie Louise,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 19, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

August 1, 2013
September 20, 2017

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: