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Thu, 08.05.1880

Gertrude Rush, first Black female lawyer in Iowa

Gertrude Rush

The birth of Gertrude E. Rush, a Black attorney and activist, in 1880 is celebrated on this date.

She was born in Texas, the daughter of a Baptist minister. Her family also lived in Kansas before moving in Oskaloosa, Iowa.  She attended Des Moines University and studied the law under her attorney-husband James B. Rush. She further studied at Drake and LaSalle universities. Rush was admitted to the Iowa Bar in 1918 as the state's first Black female lawyer.

Rush co-founded the Charity League in 1917 and the National Bar Association in 1925, and served as an unprecedented role model for young Black women seeking professional careers. An avid church activist, Rush also practiced law in Chicago and traveled internationally.  Gertrude Rush died in 1962.

Outside In
African American History in Iowa 1838-2000
by Bill Silag, Susan-Koch Bridgford, Hal Chase
Copyright 2001
Published by the State Historical Society if Iowa
ISBN 0-8033-013-1

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