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Rush Archives Blog

From the Rush Archives: Emily Lyon Gary, First Woman Member of the St. Luke's Hospital Board of Trustees

by Nathalie Wheaton on 2020-10-01T08:00:00-05:00 in History, Archives | Comments

-Post contributed by Rush Archives Work Study Student Kirsten Petrarca, Doctoral Student in Audiology, Rush University.

Emily Lyon Gary, (1878-1947), faithfully served, supported, and challenged Rush's historic St. Luke’s Hospital* over the course of twenty-eight years.

In 1919, Mrs. Gary became a member of The Woman’s Board and, eventually, rose to become their president. As president, Mrs. Gary established the annual tradition of the Woman's Board Fashion Show in 1927, a famous event that became “the most successful charitable benefit in the United States.” 

CAPTION: Emily Lyon Gary, 1878-1947, remembrance in St. Luke's News, April 1947. [1]

The Woman’s Board Fashion Show continued throughout St. Luke's Hospital's merger with Presbyterian Hospital and, later, the development of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center (now Rush University Medical Center.) For more information about the history of the Woman’s Board Fashion Show and how it helped support the mission of the hospitals over ninety years, enjoy this Rush InPerson blog post from 2016, "Fashion Forward: Ninety Years of Supporting Rush." [2]

In addition to her contributions as President of the Woman’s Board, Mrs. Gary served as an active member of the Council of the Nursing School and the Board of the Chicago Council of Nursing Education. Mrs. Gary was passionate about challenging and promoting higher standards for nursing and community health and demonstrated an “affectionate interest” in the nursing students.

In 1933, Mrs. Gary was elected to the St. Luke’s Hospital Board of Trustees, becoming the first female member of the group.

CAPTION: "A view of the grand finale of the St. Luke's Fashion Show, held on October 28, at the Civic Opera House. The Show raised $25,000 to be used for the support of the Social Service Clinics of the Hospital." From St. Luke's News, December 1942. [3]

For more on the Woman's Board Fashion Show fundraising event during this era, visit the blog post "From the Rush Archives: St. Luke's Hospital, The Woman's Board Fashion Show, and World War II." [4]

CAPTION: "The wedding procession, one of the highlights of the Fashion Show. This annual affair sponsored by the Woman's Board of the Hospital, is considered one of the finest in the country and it was particularly successful this year. To those who did not attend, we announce that Dr. Eric Oldberg won the war bond." From St. Luke's News, December 1942.

To explore Woman’s Board Fashion Show records, including scrapbooks, programs, and posters dating back to 1927, visit our online Woman's Board Fashion Show collection. [5]

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.

*Presbyterian Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital merged in 1956, to become Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital. Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital merged with the newly reorganized Rush Medical College in 1969, to become Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center (RPSLMC). RPSLMC was renamed Rush University Medical Center in 2003, to better reflect its status as a leading academic research center.  

[1] https://archive.org/details/stlukesnews08stlu/page/n29/mode/2up

[2] https://rushinperson.rush.edu/2016/10/03/fashion-forward-ninety-years-of-supporting-rush/

[3] https://archive.org/details/stlukesnews03stlu/page/n175/mode/2up

[4] https://rushu.libguides.com/blog/From-the-Rush-Archives-Celebrating-Independence-Day

[5] https://issuu.com/rusharchives/stacks/6d1d5f4226fe4b428c09f85d87292fef


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