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Rush University Medical Center Archives: St. Luke's Hospital, 1864-1956

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.

ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL, 1864-1956

Brief History of ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL:

  • Rev. Clinton Locke, founder of St. Luke's Hospital1864: St. Luke's Hospital, Chicago, Ill., was founded when Rev. Clinton Locke, rector of Grace Episcopal Church, used a sermon to call for 'a place where the sick poor might be cared for'. Members of the Camp Douglas Ladies Aid Society, who cared for Confederate prisoners of war in Chicago, sat among the congregation that day. They approached Rev. Locke to propose that he head a church hospital, and he accepted. St. Luke's Hospital started with a seven bed hospital and within a few months moved to an 18-bed facility.
  • 1865: St. Luke's Hospital was officially incorporated in 1865.
  • 1871: In May of 1871 the hospital moved to a 25-bed building on South Indiana Avenue near 14th Street. Five months later, the building survived the Great Chicago Fire.
  • 1885: St. Luke's constructed a new 65-bed building on South Indiana Avenue near 14th Street. That same year, the hospital founded the St. Luke's Hospital Training School for Nurses, also known as the St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing.
  • 1940s: St. Luke's Hospital faced a variety of problems in the years following World War II. The Hospital lacked the prestige and stability of a university affiliation. Furthermore, the institution fell into financial difficulty as the surrounding community experienced socioeconomic decline.
  • 1950s: By the early 1950s, the hospital faced the decision of whether to remain at its present location or move to a different site.
  • 1956-1959: The St. Luke's Board of Trustees considered a variety of options before they decided to move to Chicago's West Side and merge with Presbyterian Hospital to become Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital. The two boards approved this action on February 10th, 1956, and St. Luke's Hospital closed its doors on June 26, 1959.


  • SLHSN seal1864: St. Luke's Hospital was founded.
  • 1885: The hospital founded the Training School for Nurses, also known as the St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing. In
  • 1956: St. Luke's Hospital merged with Presbyterian Hospital to create Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital, located on Chicago's West Side. The nursing schools merged at that time, also, to become Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing.

Several items from the St. Luke's Hospital Records, #4704, and St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing Records, #4765, have been digitized and are available online.

More St. Luke's Hospital resources:

St. Luke's Hospital, 1864-1956

Using the Rush Archives

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The Rush Archives offers on-site services one day a week. Often, we can assist researchers using digital resources.

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Ask the Archives buttonContact the Archivist: 

Submit Request to Nathalie Wheaton, MSLS, Archivist: Ask the Rush Archives

Note for researchers: Internal reference requests are given precedence. External requests will be addressed as time allows. However, our website will lead you to a number of digital resources from the Rush Archives that may meet your information needs.

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Citing our Collections: Footnotes or captions should indicate the collection or other identifying information from our finding aids. Please contact the Archivist for more information. Basic format for citation:

[Identification of item], in the [Name of Collection] [Collection Number], Rush University Medical Center Archives, Chicago, Ill.

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About Our Collections

The Rush University Medical Center Archives, Chicago, Ill., is the official archival agency of Rush University Medical Center and Rush University.

The Rush Archives strives to tell the story of Rush and its esteemed history of education, research, patient care, and community leadership in a meaningful way through our collections.

The Rush Archives holds almost 3000 linear feet of material from Rush and its predecessor schools and hospitals going back to the founding of Rush Medical College in 1837, two days before the city of Chicago was incorporated. The Rush Archives also includes the personal papers of many individuals related to those institutions. Photographs, audiovisual material, paintings, artifacts, nursing school uniforms and caps, and digital assets document the history of Rush, also. 

The Rush Archives preserves, identifies, organizes, and provides access to records of long-term historical, evidential, and administrative value to the institution. 

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