From the Archives: First Electrocardiograph, 1913


Chicago’s first electrocardiograph was installed 100 years ago at Presbyterian Hospital, which later became part of Rush University Medical Center.

Renowned heart specialist and Rush Medical College graduate James B. Herrick, MD, was instrumental in securing the equipment through a gift from Mrs. Cyrus McCormick, Sr., a noted Chicago philanthropist.

She also helped the hospital acquire an improved model in 1915 and provided substantial funding for research in heart disease.

According to the 1939 issue of the Presbyterian Hospital Bulletin, “It was with the aid of these instruments that Dr. Herrick made his first notable discoveries about coronary thrombosis and started on the trail which has brought fame to himself and immeasurable benefit to humanity.”

Electrocardiography measures the heart’s electrical activity and helps detect abnormalities.

From the Archives: ‘The Thrills of Television,’ 1949


This photo appeared in the April 1949 issue of the Presbyterian Hospital Bulletin. The caption reads: “Through the generosity of two members of the Children’s Department Committee of the Woman’s Board, patients in that department now enjoy the thrills of television.”

Presbyterian later became part of Rush University Medical Center.

Remembering Rush’s Wartime Heroes

By Nathalie Wheaton

Employees from Presbyterian Hospital — Rush’s predecessor — volunteered to staff the Army’s General Hospital Unit 13 during World War II in New Guinea. Unit 13 included about 20 doctors, almost 100 nurses and 350 enlisted men (including plumbers, barbers and carpenters).

Throughout its 175-year history, the men and women of Rush University Medical Center have shown courage abroad in the face of danger. Many have saved the lives of servicemen and civilians and helped others heal.

The Rush Archives safeguards the stories of many of Rush’s heroes in its collections.

To learn more about our staff’s service during World War I, World War II or other wars, please contact the Rush Archives at

From the Archives: Daniel A. Jones Building, 1917

By Nathalie Wheaton

This postcard from 1917 shows Rush’s Daniel A. Jones Building in all its glory. Built in 1888 at the corner of Congress Parkway and Wood Street, the Jones Building held Presbyterian Hospital’s public patient wards at the time. Presbyterian Hospital is a predecessor hospital of today’s Rush University Medical Center.

This is a rare view as it shows a building across the street (far left side of postcard), where the Eisenhower Expressway and CTA’s Blue Line are today. The building on the far right side is the Rush Medical College Clinical Building, which was razed for the Rawson Laboratory Building. Rawson opened in 1924.

Nathalie Wheaton is an archivist with Rush University Medical Center. You can contact the Rush Archives at or at (312) 942-7214.

From the Archives: Armour Patient Ward, 1898

By Heather Stecklein

In this 1898 photo, Arthur Dean Bevan, MD, visits patients in the Armour Ward of Presbyterian Hospital.

Starting in the earliest days of Presbyterian Hospital, members of the Armour family endowed beds for patients who could not afford medical care. In 1889, the family endowment grew to the 10-bed ward pictured. Whenever a bed became available in this ward, the patient who occupied it received free treatment.

Presbyterian Hospital is a predecessor to Rush University Medical Center. It opened in 1883 on what is now the Rush campus.

Heather Stecklein is an archivist with Rush University Medical Center. You can contact the Rush Archives at or at (312) 942-7214.

Rush History FAQs, Part 2: Affiliations

The Rev. Clinton Locke founded St. Luke's Hospital in 1864.

By Nathalie Wheaton

Rush University Medical Center changed its name from Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in 2003. What’s the story behind all those names?

Let’s begin with Presbyterian Hospital. Rush Medical College moved to the west side after the Great Chicago Fire to be near Cook County Hospital. Although the Rush faculty had close ties to County, they opened Presbyterian Hospital, which they could use as their own teaching hospital. The hospital was established with the financial support of local Presbyterian congregations in 1883. The first Presbyterian Hospital buildings, the Ross and Hamill wings, stood where the Murdock Building (1912) stands today. Currently, the oldest standing building on Rush’s campus is the Jones Building (1888) which housed Presbyterian Hospital’s patient wards. The Rush Medical College buildings and Presbyterian Hospital buildings were connected, as they are today, allowing faculty and students to travel easily from classrooms, laboratories, and offices to a patient’s bedside.

What about St. Luke’s Hospital?

St. Luke’s Hospital was founded in 1864 by the Rev. Clinton Locke, rector of Grace Episcopal Church, with the help and support of a woman’s society in his parish. At the time, Chicago was served by only two hospitals. Locke saw the need for a free hospital to serve the growing population of the city. For most of its history, the hospital stood on the 1400 blocks of Michigan and Indiana Avenues. Continue reading

Isabella Herb, First Woman on the Medical Staff

By Sarah Scheinman and Nathalie Wheaton

People often ask the Rush University Medical Center Archives staff who was the “first” — the first female student of Rush Medical College, for example, or maybe the first African-American on the hospital staff. The answers are often more complicated than people would like. And sometimes they are impossible to answer definitively. However, one first we’re sure of is the identity of the first woman on staff at Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago. Presbyterian Hospital, founded in 1883 on this campus, was an early predecessor of Rush University Medical Center.

From 1909 to 1941, Herb was head of the department of anesthesia at Presbyterian Hospital, the first woman to join its medical staff. She also served as the first woman president of the American Association of Anesthetists. In her early career, she practiced as an anesthetist and pathologist in Augustana Hospital in Chicago, working with Lawrence Prince, MD, the major developer of open drop ether and chloroform anesthesia. In 1897, she first published her study surveying 1,000 cases of anesthetics at the hospital, “Observations on One Thousand Consecutive Cases of Anesthesia in the Service of Dr. A. J. Ochsner.Continue reading