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Rush Archives Blog

Ask an Archivist Day! How Old is the Rush Archives?

by Nathalie Wheaton on 2020-10-07T08:00:00-05:00 in History, Archives | Comments

American Archives Month 2020 bannerOctober is American Archives Month! And October 7, is designated as "Ask an Archivist Day," a day for archivists around the country to tackle your most burning questions.

The Rush Archives is happy to answer your questions about Rush history, the Rush Archives, and our collections throughout the year, of course. But feel free to reach out to us through our Twitter account, @RushArchives, use the hashtag #AskAnArchivist, or send us a good old-fashioned email!

DID YOU KNOW? Rush dates back to the founding of Rush Medical College, March 2, 1837, two days before the city of Chicago was chartered. If you've been following the Rush Archives, you probably know that already.

BUT DID YOU KNOW that the Rush Archives traces its founding back to 1895? The 1890s were an exciting time for Chicago and, also, Rush Medical College. The Rush Archives holds extensive records from the 1890s. A major reason for that lies in the work of a Rush Medical College alumnus, John E. Rhodes, MD.

By the 1890s, Rush Medical College had not only survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but had grown exponentially in size and reputation. In 1883, Rush Medical College established its teaching hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, which is part of the foundation of today's Rush University Medical Center. 

CAPTION: John Edwin Rhodes, MD, in the Rush Medical College yearbook, The Pulse, 1894. [1]

At Rush, Dr. Rhodes served as Lecturer of Diseases of the Throat and Chest. He also served on the faculty of Northwestern University's Woman's Medical School as Professor of Physical Diagnosis and Clinical Medicine. "He confines his practice very largely to that branch of the professional work in which he is teaching, diseases of the throat, nose, and chest."

Dr. Rhodes, Rush Medical College, class of 1886, served as secretary of the Alumni Association for many years.

In 1895, Dr. Rhodes was appointed by the faculty of Rush Medical College to serve as the school's first historian. The December 1895 issue of The Corpuscle, Rush's student and alumni newsletter, announced that appointment by stating the following:

"He is endeavoring to collect everything in the way of letters, pamphlets, books, programs, etc., which are in anyway associated with the college. Such letters...are not only of great interest to present readers, but are of great value to the historian of the college and will be of surpassing interest to future generations as reflecting more accurately than anything else the inner life and thought of the students of by-gone days." [2]

Alumni and faculty helped build the initial archives of Rush by sending Dr. Rhodes a variety of records and papers that helped fill in the gaps of Rush history. 

In the years since, this collection grew to include the records of Rush's historic hospitals and nursing schools. And, today, our collection continues to grow, although with the addition of digital files, our more recent collections might look a bit different nowadays.

But one thing hasn't changed. The Rush Archives still depends on the donations of archival material and transfers of records from Rush alumni, faculty, staff and students. 

The Rush Archives still needs YOU to continue Dr. Rhodes legacy. If you have a story to share about your time at Rush or have photographs, letters, blog or social media posts, programs, flyers, or anything else that helps tell your story, please reach out to us! Your story matters!

Go ahead, Ask an Archivist! @RushArchives

Want to learn more about the history of Rush or the Rush Archives collections? Explore the Rush Archives website, or contact the archivist, Nathalie Wheaton, MSLS.

All documents and photographs belong to the records collections of Rush University Medical Center Archives, Chicago, Ill. Contact the archivist for permissions and full citations.

[1] archive.org/details/pulserushmedical1894rush/page/n104/mode/2up

[2] archive.org/details/corpuscle5189596rush/page/182/mode/2up


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