How to Learn More About Doc

Timeline of Doc’s Life

In order to understand what may have led Doc Holliday to pursue a career as a dentist, and his subsequent abandonment of this role, it is useful to explore pivotal moments within his lifetime. By following his movements through time and space, a colorful story emerges about the infamous man history cannot seem to forget.

The following timeline captures snippets of Doc’s short life, and suspends them as moments for inquiry: What was Doc’s childhood like that led him to dental school? What factors may have influenced him to pursue this career? Where and for how long did Doc practice dentistry? Did he really engage in frequent gunfights? Move across the nation, as Doc did, and find the answers through this journey.

The timeline is divided into 3 separate groups, which allows users to either explore Doc’s entire lifespan or simply the events that excite them. A brief breakdown of the groups is provided below:

  1. Doc Holliday Timeline (1851 – 1872): This group of slides follows the first 21 years of Doc’s life, including his birth, childhood and adolescence, family life, education, enrollment and graduation in dental school, and first experiences as a dentist
  2. Doc Holliday Timeline (1873 – 1879): This group of slides follows Doc through most of his 20’s, including his tuberculosis diagnosis, partnerships with other dentists, opening practices on his own, descent into gambling and dangerous nightlife, trouble with the law, and development of relationships with prominent people such as Wyatt Earp and longtime girlfriend, Mary Katherine Horony-Cummings or ‘Big Nose Kate’
  3. Doc Holliday Timeline (1880 – 1887): This group of slides follows the last 7 years of Doc’s life, including his move to Tombstone, confrontations with enemies, arrests and accusations of criminal behavior, shootout at the O.K. Corral, involvement in Wyatt Earp’s ‘Vendetta Ride,’ and death

Test Your Knowledge

We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed our exhibition! Feel free to test your Doc Holliday knowledge by taking our quiz!

For More Information

Online Resources

  1. 1859-1880: The early years. (1984). Article for The Journal of the American Dental Association. Made available through ScienceDirect.
  2. Chernin, D. (2009). The evolution of the American Dentist. Part I—Amalgamation: 1776-1840. Article in Journal of the History of Dentistry.
  3. City of Griffin. (n.d.). John Henry “Doc” Holliday. Short biography. 
  4. Dinham, P. (2017). Open wide! Back-street horror of Victorian dentistry exposed in grim photos from a time when a toothache would mean a painful trip to the barber. Article for DailyMail.
  5. Boyle, R.W. “Doc.” (n.d.). Doc Holliday Live! Site for Doc Holliday impersonator. 
  6. Fitch, S.S. (1829). A System of Dental Surgery, in Three Parts. New York : G. & C. & H. Carvill. Book from the digital collections of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. PDF
  7. Folsom, A. (n.d.). Doc Holliday and the Courthouse Incident. Post for Valdosta State University Archives.
  8. Editors. (2019). Doc Holliday dies of tuberculosis. Post for History. Updated on November 6, 2019.
  9. Hughes, S. (2004). Dentist of the Purple Sage. Illustration by David Hollenbach. Post for The Pennsylvania Gazette.
  10. Linker, J. (2016). Dentistry and Dentists. Rutgers University. The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia post.
  11. L.M.C. (2019). Doc Holliday Timeline. Timeline for Timelines and Soundtracks site.
  12. Pendleton, A.S. (1973). Doc Holliday’s Georgia Background. Article for The Journal of American History. 
  13. Roberts, G. (2006). Doc Holliday, the Earps’ Strangest Ally. Article for Wild West. October 2006 issue. Shared by HistoryNet.
  14. Taylor, J.A. (1922). History of dentistry; a practical treatise for the use of dental students and practitioners. Book from the digital collections of the University of Michigan.
  15. Tennant, F. (2012). “Doc” Holliday: A Story of Tuberculosis, Pain, and Self-medication in the Wild West. Article for Practical Pain Management. Volume 12, Issue #11.
  16. The Dental Center. (n.d.). Dental Hygiene in the 1800s.
  17. Traywick, B. (1997). Doc Holliday. Article for Wild West. October 1997 issue. Shared by HistoryNet.
  18. United States Census Bureau. (2016). U.S. Census Bureau History: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
  19. Webb, D. (2004). Debate over Doc Holliday’s remains continues. Article for Vail Daily.
  20. Weiser, K. (2019). Doc Holliday – Deadly Doctor of the American West. Post for Legends of America.

Related Exhibitions

  1. Crime Museum. Doc Holliday online entry.
  2. Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum. Holliday family home of Doc’s uncle, Dr. John Stiles. Fayetteville, Georgia.
  3. Lowndes County Historical Society Museum. Doc Holliday. Online exhibition. 
  4. The Doc Holliday Museum. Glenwood Springs Historical Society. Glenwood Springs, Colorado.


  1. Herda, D.J. They Call Me Doc: The Story Behind the Legend of John Henry Holliday. Globe Pequot Press, 2010.
  2. Roberts, Gary L. Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend. Wiley, 2011.
  3. Russell, Mary Doria. Doc. Random House Publishing Group, 2012.
  4. Russell, Mary Doria. Epitaph. HarperCollins Publishers, 2016.
  5. Tanner, Karen Holliday. Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait. Foreword by Robert K. Dearment. University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.
  6. Wilcox, Victoria. The Saga of Doc Holliday: Southern Son, Dance with the Devil, & Dead Man’s Hands. TwoDot, 2019.


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The Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry is an auxiliary enterprise of the University of Maryland, School of Dentistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

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