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Rush University Medical Center Archives: Central Free Dispensary, 1873-1961

Welcome to the Rush University Medical Center Archives. The Rush Archives, a department of the Library of Rush University Medical Center, is the official archival agency of Rush University Medical Center and Rush University.

CENTRAL FREE DISPENSARY, 1873-1961

Brief History of the CENTRAL FREE DISPENSARY:

  • Central Free Dispensary, Harrison St.1873: The Central Free Dispensary was founded in 1873, and served as a free clinic for patients on the west side of Chicago. The Central Free Dispensary began after the Great Fire of 1871 by combining the efforts of the Herrick Free Dispensary, est. 1871, and the Brainard Dispensary, est. 1868. The new united dispensary was incorporated in 1873 with a fund of $11,000. This fund was loaned to the Rush Medical College to help with the cost of a new college building at the corner of Wood and Harrison streets. In exchange for rooms, the dispensary contracted to make its medical facilities available to the College for medical education. The union of the two institutions gave the sick poor of Chicago access to medical care and provided the college with patients for the teaching program. 
  • 1940s: The Central Free Dispensary became the outpatient service for Presbyterian Hospital in the 1940s.
  • 1961: The Central Free Dispensary became the Presbyterian-St. Luke's Health Center.

Several items from the Central Free Dispensary Records, #4761, have been digitized and are available online.

  • Annual Reports, Central Free Dispensary 
  • Because of the Central Free Dispensary's close relationship with Rush Medical College, please explore the Rush Medical College collections tab above for further information regarding the history of the clinic.

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