On September 8th, 2020, at 1:30pm, Benjamin Rush biographer and Penn faculty member Stephen Fried will discuss new access to Rush’s writings, the nascent Rush Papers Project by Penn Libraries and the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Penn Libraries’ evolving Benjamin Rush Portal Project. Concurrently, the Library Company is developing a series of Innovation Fellowships, including fundraising for five Benjamin Rush Fellowships devoted to working with newly-digitized materials.
The Benjamin Rush Portal started last winter when Penn Libraries invited Fried to give a talk at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. The event, which was to include a small exhibit, was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. When the talk was later moved online, so was the exhibit, and Yen Ho, a very ambitious library science intern at the Penn Libraries Biomedical Library, converted the exhibit to an online format and, working with Fried, further developed it into a burgeoning resource for “all things Rush.”
The portal started with material from Fried’s new Rush biography, timelines he had created for that project, and links to all the digitized versions of Rush’s own writing with some explanatory material. Fried and Ho were then able to post links to the thousands of pages of Rush’s medical lecture notes recently digitized by Penn for the “For the Health of the New Nation” initiative, an effort organized by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) and funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).
Fried and Ho have continued to push the envelope. They added links to otherwise scattered and hard-to-access copies of Rush’s journals that he kept while in Europe for medical training. And, with the current surge of interest in the 1793 Yellow Fever epidemic, they worked to include links to all of the letters Rush wrote during the 1793 epidemic, which provide the most powerful real-time narrative of the nation’s first major public health disaster. They were also able to add a PDF of over 100 pages of “The Letters of Benjamin Rush,” with full annotations, and they continue to add pages linking to Rush content pertaining to additional subject areas such as Rush’s works surrounding race and abolition and veterinary medicine.
Yen Ho is proud to have this project serve as her capstone project for her Drexel University MS in Libary and Information Science.
Register here for the September 8th event!