Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library, John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center

Papers of Ruth Hartgraves, MD

Manuscript Collection No. 32

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Ruth Hartgraves, MD
Title: Papers of Ruth Hartgraves, MD
Dates: 1901-1995
Abstract: Ruth Hartgraves, MD was an Obstetrician-Gynecologist in Houston, Texas from 1935-1985. During her 50 years in private practice, she delivered more than 3000 babies, held appointments at the major hospitals in Houston and was a faculty member at the Baylor College of Medicine. She was active in medical organizations, such as the American Women's Medical Association, of which she served as President and from which she received the Elizabeth Blackwell Award. She and her sister, Hallie Hartgraves, attended the University of Texas - Austin in the 1920's and were among the first women graduates of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.The collection includes information about her Texas heritage, family history and life as a professional woman in the mid-20th century. Resources document her cultural interests, especially in opera, her religious affiliations at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, and her extensive world travel.
Identification: 32
Quantity: 36 linear feet
Location: Historical Research Center (HRC), 8272 El Rio, Suite 190, Houston, TX 77054. phone: 713.799.7145
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library, John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center,  1133 John Freeman Blvd.  Houston, Texas 77030

Biographical Note

Ruth Hartgraves, MD, a Houston obstetrician and gynecologist who delivered more than 3,000 Houstonians and pioneered the trail for women in medicine during the span of her 50 year career, died October 17, 1995, at the age of 93. A native Texan, Dr. Hartgraves was born October 24, 1901 and moved to the Houston area during the 1930s to attend the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston. She graduated from UTMB's School of Medicine in 1932, and thereafter completed an internship at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston, and a residency at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children.

Dr. Hartgraves begain her career in Houston in 1935 and held appointments at Methodist, Hermann, Memorial, St. Luke's and Jefferson Davis Hospitals before retiring from practice in 1987. She was also a faculty member of Baylor College of Medicine for almost 30 years.

Dr. Hartgraves was the recipient of the 1992 Distinguished Professional Women's Award which is presented by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. This award was presented in recognition of Dr. Hartgraves' outstanding achievements in Texas and the nation, for the significant contributions she made to her professional discipline, and for her pioneering spirit to mentor women and to provide a positive role model.

In 1985, she was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Hartgraves was also the recipient of the 1980 Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award granted by the UTMB School of Medicine alumni to graduates who have made significant contributions to the medical profession and to mankind.

She served as an organizer and the first President of the Houston branch of the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA), as well as President of the national AMWA organization. In 1975, her efforts earned her the AMWA's highest honor, the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, presented annually to a person making an outstanding contribution to the cause of women in medicine. Dr. Hartgraves was the first Texas physician to be so recognized.

She was a charter member of St. Luke's United Methodist Church and had a life-long record of involvement in community affairs, including the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Ballet Society, and the Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology.

Houston Chronicle, Thursday, October 19, 1995.

Scope and Contents

This collection includes biographical information such as Dr. Hartgraves' Curriculum Vitae, biographical documents, education certificates and genealogical information about her family. Information is included about her sister, Hallie Hartgraves, who was a physician before she became a religious nun.

Information about Dr. Hartgraves' medical practice includes notebooks she made and reference books she used in the care of her patients. There is information about her hospital appointments and medical associations to which she belonged. Significant information is available about the American Medical Women's Association, especially during her presidency in 1963.

Several scrapbooks, folders and photographs document her life as a professional woman in Houston from the 1930s through the 1980s.

Dr. Hartgraves received several prestigious honors. The awards and background material on each of the ceremonies is preserved.

Dr. Hartgraves involvement in the cultural life of Houston is documented with notes she took on operas and ephemera from several events she attended. Her main hobby of world travel is covered through travel notebooks, passports and itineraries. Some mementoes acquired during her travels are also available.



The Papers of Ruth Hartgraves, MD were donated several years during Dr. Hartgraves' life and following her death. Unfortunately some of her papers were damaged or destroyed in a flood in 2001. Some of the material, particularly in connection with her travels, were unprocessed at the time of that flood. The order of the 1983 processing was maintained as far as possible in this processing. This Guide replaces all prior finding aids.
Series I-Family Memorabilia
Series II-Personal Papers and Correspondence
Series III-Career and Professional Activities and Interests
Series IV-Awards
Series V-Patient Records [RESTRICTED]
Series VI-Cultural Activities and Travel
Series VII-Miscellaneous Oversize


Restrictions on Access

Some documents may have restricted use. Please contact Associate Director or Archivist for further information.

Related Material

Some photographs were removed to the Graphic Works Collection in 1985. A rack of medical bottles used in the late 1800s, a glass breast milk collector, and a pair of late 19th century eye glasses were removed to the Historical Medical Apparatus Collection in 2006. Ten aperitif glasses were removed to the Historical Research Center's kitchen for use at fund raising functions. The following note written by Dr. Hartgraves was attached to the glasses: "The ten tall glasses belong to Mrs. Jesse Jones, who enjoyed sherry. Audry Beck, her granddaughter did not and gave the glasses to Dr. Hartgraves, December 25, 1987."

Administrative Information

Custodial History

These papers were a gift from Dr. Hartgraves from 1983 to 1992 and items from her estate following her death.

Preferred Citation

Ruth Hartgraves, MD Papers, Manuscript Collection No. 32, John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library

Processing Information

The collection was reviewed for duplicate materials and to establish or re-establish the order. Duplicate reprints were discarded. Paperclips and most other binding material were removed. When necessary, materials were interleaved with archival bond or put into mylar envelopes. Some articles and reports on acidic paper were copied onto archival bond and then discarded. Legal documents folded and housed in letter-sized folders were unfolded and the letter-sized folders replaced with legal-sized folders.

Detailed Description of the Collection


Series I: Family Memorabilia, 1850-1990

This series contains information about Ruth Hartgraves' family genealogy; clippings, photographs and documents which relate to her parents, Mary Adeline and Frank Hartgraves; information about her brother, Perry Hartgraves, and her sister, Hallie Hartgraves who took the name of Sister Lucia C.S.M when she became a professed nun. Family letters, postcards, valentines and ephemera relating to the family are included. Jewelry that belonged to various members of Dr. Hartgraves family is identified. Two plates that belonged to family members are stored in Series IV, Box 3.
Box Folder
Box Folder
Box Folder
1 1 Hartgraves' family genealogy; marriage certificate of Mary Adeline and Frank Hartgraves; letters; photographs.
2 Mary Adeline and Frank Hartgraves: Obituaries, funeral service, letters relating to death.
3 Frank Hartgraves: Letters to Ruth Hartgraves.
4 Perry Hartgraves: Postcards, photographs, magazine article.
5 Hallie Hartgraves: Postcards.
6 Hallie Hartgraves: Valentines, Graduation programs.
7 Hallie Hartgraves: Letters, photographs, will, funeral service.
8 Menard Ranch: Photographs, deed. Mission San Saba: Articles
Menard County History - An Anthology, by Menard County Historical Society, 1982. Section on Hartgraves, pages 316-319.
Box Folder
2 Elizabeth Browning (book of poems); Burns Poems (book of poems; Family Bible (2); The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, vol. XVII, no.4, April, 1914.
Box Folder
3 Handkerchiefs, mittens, child's silverware, Italian wooden crucifix with lacquered icon, small pen, Elgin woman's wristwatch, pocket watches (2 belonging to Mary Hartgraves, 1 belonging to Frank Hartgraves), small Mason symbolic trowel, binoculars and receipts, small salt cellar and pepper pot.
Box Folder
4 Glass cup from 1904 World's Fair; small jewelry box, hair comb; wooden Italian crucifix; ivory pin with five elephants.
Box Folder
5 Two carved ivory boxes with lids, elephant motif.
Box Folder
6 2 crystal necklaces and blue stone earrings and sweater clasp in jeweler's box; 1 rhinestone bracelet; 1 green stone and pearl necklace; 3 charms for bracelet in one box; 1 charm for bracelet in one box; 1 gold tone necklace; 1 small box contains - 1 gold ring, 1 gold ring with inscription Frank, 1 high school ring (1919 BHS), 1 UT class ring (1926 inscribed Hallie Hartgraves), 1 pair brass earrings, 1 yellow stone pin, 1 snap cufflink with yellow settings, 1 sterling cross, 4 Masonic pins, 1 Masonic charm for bracelet, 1 ALTRUSA pin, 1 pin marked HH 1924; 1 small box contains - 1 Masonic pin inscribed M Hartgraves, 1 Scorpio (astrology) medallion, 1 St. Luke medallion, 1 gold cufflink, 4 charms for bracelet; 1 tie clasp inscribed F.H.; 1 pearl necklace.
Box Folder
7 Pair of riding spurs and leather straps; set of cotton carding wires.


Series II: Personal Papers and Correspondence, 1901-1993

Scope and Contents
This series includes curriculum vitae of Dr. Hartgraves from several dates; obituary and funeral service information; interviews; list of travels; documents such as a copy of her birth certificate; educational and professional certificates; photographs; miscellaneous items about her life.
Box Folder
Box Folder
Box Folder
1 1 Curriculum Vitae; Birth certificate (copy).
2 Newspaper obituary (10/19/1995); Newspaper Articles (07/1993, 10/1993); Funeral arrangements; Driver's license (1984 expiration date).
3 List of travels.
4 Interviews: 1977, 1988; notes on interviews.
5 An Interview with Ruth Hartgraves, M.D. conducted by Larry J. Wygant, 1997. Bound volume.
6 UT Commencement Programs, 1932 (3), 1925 (3); T. S. Painter Professorship comment; Texas Pre-Med Society, 1921.
7 UT certification of medical school graduation; Texas Teacher Certification, 1922, 1928; Texas State Board of Medical Examiner certification to attend medical school.
8 Accident, 1970; River Oaks lease; Insurance policy - property.
9 Photographs.
10 Photographs.
11 Cultural events ephemera.
12 Origin of Lakeside Country Club.
13 Miscellaneous donations; Life stock sale program.
Box Folder
2 1 Correspondence with HAM-TMC Library.
2 Correspondence and postcards from Ruth Hartgraves.
3 Postcards to Ruth Hartgraves.
4 Correspondence to Ruth Hartgraves.
5 Correspondence to Ruth Hartgraves.
6 Correspondence with Dr. Judith Ahlem Nilson.
7 Invitation list 1971.
8 Christmas card records 1970-1981.
9 Addresses ca. 1982.
10 Cards from Bob Muir and photographs.
11 Scurlock/Blanton: Photographs, speeches, programs.
12 Calendar and articles.
Box Folder
3 1 Social Clubs and Organizations: Philosophical Society of Texas - 1980 Photograph; membership information.
Social Clubs and Organizations: Philosophical Society of Texas Proceedings -1979-1982, 1984-1989; History 1937-1987.
2 Social Clubs and Organizations: Blue Bird Circle - Bylaws, 1987, Program, 1987, Yearbooks - 1970-1971, 1985-1990.
Box Folder
4 1 Social Clubs and Organizations: ALTRUSA - Yearbooks, Installation ceremony, articles.
2 Social Clubs and Organizations: Business and professional women's clubs - correspondence, awards.
3 Social Clubs and Organizations: The Woman's Building of Houston - Membership, yearbooks.
4 Social Clubs and Organizations: Chi Omega - Membership, by-laws, yearbook.
5 Social Clubs and Organizations: The Foundation for Children, Inc. - 1978 "Houstonian of the Year" award.
6 Social Clubs and Organizations: Foundation for Children - 1971 Dedication ceremony and correspondence.
7 Social Clubs and Organizations: The Women's Fund for Research and Education - 1985 Honor, photographs, 1986-1987 yearbook.
8 Social Clubs and Organizations: Miscellaneous membership certificates.
9 Speeches: 1962 radio speech (2) University of Houston.
10 Speeches: Various topics.
Box Folder
5 1 St. Luke's United Methodist Church: Correspondence, articles.
2 St. Luke's United Methodist Church: Administrative Board.
3 St. Luke's United Methodist Church: Speech to Youth Group.
4 St. Luke's United Methodist Church: Bible Study notes.
5 St. Luke's United Methodist Church: Bible Study notes.
6 St. Luke's United Methodist Church: Bible Study notes and articles.
7 Religious communities.
8 Inspirational writings collection.
Box Folder
6 1 Opera: Programs, brochures.
2 Opera: Notebooks, program, A Story of A Hundred Operas by Felix Mendelssohn, 1913, annodated by Ruth Hartgraves.
3 Opera: Librettos, postcards.
Opera: The Nibelung's Ring: English words to Richard Wagner's Ring Des Nibelungen, by Alfred Forman, 1877; Manon, 1899.
4 Female Physicians: articles.
5 Women: Articles.
6 Scrapbook, part 1.
7 Scrapbook, part 2.
Box Folder
7 Holy Bible Revised Standard Version with notes and taped clippings; The Book of Common Prayer (2 with inscriptions); Ten Decades of Praise; Religious Communities in the Episcopal Church with letter and notes; The Pattern Pray with notes; A Manual of Catholic Worship with inscription; My Way of Life with inscription and notes; The New Covenant with notes; New Testament and Psalms (2 with notes); Forward Day by Day (3 with notes).
Box Folder
8 Scrapbook, 1930's


Series III: Career and Professional Activities and Interests

Scope and Contents
This series contains information about Dr. Hartgraves' medical internship and residency, her private practice, and hospital appointments. A significant amount of information about her participation in, including her presidency of, the Amedican Medical Women's Association is provided.
Box Folder
Box Folder
Box Folder
1 1 Diplomas: New York Infirmary, New England Hospital for Women and Children.
2 Professional Correspondence.
3 Office Records: Dedication Announcement, Supply record, first dollar bill, 2 coins, photographs.
4 Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Certificate (1941), correspondence, bylaws, rosters.
5 Houston Gynecologicial and Obstetrical Society: Certificate (1971), directory, bylaws.
6 American Medical Association and Texas Medical Association certificates.
7 Post Graduate Medical Assembly of South Texas: correspondence, program. Harris County Medical Association installation. Doctor's Club of Houston.
8 Baylor College of Medicine.
9 Hermann Hospital. Jefferson Davis Hospital.
10 Memorial Hospital. Lilly Jolley School of Nursing Methodist Hospital.
11 St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital.
12 University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston.
13 Diagnostic Books.
14 "The Responsibility of the Physician to the Family in the Space Age" 1963.
Box Folder
2 1 Handwritten medical notebook and clippings.
2 American Medical Women's Association, 1975: Elizabeth Blackwell award, letters, photographs, program.
3 American Medical Women's Association, Presidency: Photographs, speech, brochures, program.
4 American Medical Women's Association, Presidency: Speeches, correspondence, articles.
5 American Medical Women's Association, Presidency: Speeches, diary.
6 American Medical Women's Association, Presidency: Clippings.
7 American Medical Women's Association: Correspondence, brochures, photograph.
8 American Medical Women's Association, 1962 Medical Woman of the Year certificate.
9 Medical Women's International Association IXth Congress: Letters, program, brochures, clippings.
10 Medical Women's International Journal: December, 1958 and 1960, July 1963.


Series IV: Awards

Scope and Contents
Dr. Hartgraves received many awards from organizations and educational institutions. Information about those awards and about Ruth Hartgraves's relationship with the universities are included in this series. Information about awards from the American Medical Women's Association are included in the Series III, Box2, Folders 2 and 8.
Box Folder
Box Folder
Box Folder
1 1 Southwestern University Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, 1976: Letters, photographs, program, articles.
2 Southwestern University: Letters, brochures, articles.
3 University of Texas Medical Branch Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni Award, 1980: Phtographs, programs, letters.
4 University of Texas Medical Branch: correspondence.
5 University of Texas - Austin Distinguished Alumni Award, 1985: Photographs, letters.
6 University of Texas - Austin Distinguished Alumni Award, 1985: Program, ephemera, speech, articles.
7 University of Texas - Austin Distinguished Alumni Award, 1985 medallion.
Box Folder
2 The Methodist Hospital, 1961: plaque; American Medical Women's Association, Houston Chapter 42, 1964-65: plaque; Memorial Hospital System, 1973: plaque; American Medical Women's Association Elizabeth Blackwell Award, 1975: medallion; University of Texas Medical Branch Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni Award, 1980: medallion; St. Luke's Hospital, 1982: lucite cube; The University of Texas System Chancellor's Council, 1989: plaque; University of Texas Medical Branch Old Red Centennial, 1990: medallion; University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Distinguished Professional Woman's Award, 1992: plaque.
Box Folder
Box 3 St. Luke's Methodist Church Distinguished Life Award: Crystal statue; Medical Arts Building Co. in Appreciation of Twenty Years Tenancy, 1955: Sterling Revere bowl; Bowl which belonged to Ruth Hartgraves's grandmother and Hartgraves' plate (see Series I)
Box Folder
Box 4 University of Texas - Austin Ex-Students Association Distinguished Alumna, 1985: Medallion in wooden box with medal plaque, blazer emblem, orange silk, medallion on orange/white ribbon, key ring medallion; Friends of the Texas Medical Center Library, 1989: glass paperweight;


Series V: Patient Records RESTRICTED

Scope and Contents
This library abides by all Texas and federal laws, rules, and regulations applying to medical records. To protect the patients' privacy, no list of their names is made available. These records are restricted. For further information contact the archivist.
Box Folder
Box Folder
Box Folder
1 Patient Records.


Series VI: Travel

Scope and Contents
Dr. Hartgraves' main hobby was travel and she traveled internationally to several professional meetings. She toured the world several times from the 1950s through the 1980s. Her travels are documented in itineraries, notes, passports, artifacts and ephemera.
Box Folder
Box Folder
Box Folder
1 1 Brochures and notes: 1949, Canadian Rockies.
2 Itineraries, notes, photographs, ephemera: 1953, England.
The Illustrated London News Coronation Number Queen Elizabeth II, edited by Sir Bruce Ingram: 1953, England.
3 Itineraries, notes: 1959.
4 Itineraries, notes, photographs: 1961.
5 Itineraries, notes, photographs, ephemera: 1963.
6 Itineraries, notes, programs: 1964.
7 Itineraries, notes, photographs: 1965.
8 Itineraries, notes: 1965.
9 Itineraries, notes, photographs: 1966, 1967.
Box Folder
2 1 Itineraries, programs, photographs: 1968, XIth Congress-Medical Women's International Association.
2 Itineraries, notes, ephemera: 1968, 1969.
3 Itineraries, programs, notes, ephemera: 1970, XIIth Congress-Medical Women's International Association.
4 Itineraries, notes: 1973.
5 Itineraries, notes, brochures: 1974.
6 Itineraries, notes, ephemera: 1975, Arctic.
7 Programs, notes, postcards, notebooks: 1975, Arctic.
Box Folder
3 1 Itineraries, notes, photographs: 1977.
2 Itineraries, notes, brochures: 1978.
3 Itineraries, notes: 1979, China.
Book: American's Tourist Manual People's Republic of China: 1979, China.
4 Notes, articles, photographs, ephemera: 1979, China.
5 Itineraries, notes, postcards, photographs: 1979, 1980.
6 Itineraries, notes: 1984, 1985.
7 Postcards: Europe, Africa, Egypt.
8 Postcards: Hawaii, South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, Antaractica, Asia, Japan.
9 Postcards: Caribbean, South America, United States.
Box Folder
4 1 Receipts for foreign purchases; passenger tickets.
2 Notes, ephemera, misc.
3 Photographs, postcards, ephemera.
4 Lindblat newsletters.
5 Travel certificates.
6 Travel Guides (3).
7 MD Medical News Magazine with article on Africa.
Box Folder
5 1 Ephemera: Europe-England, Ireland.
2 Ephemera: Europe-Poland, Czech, Bulgaria.
3 Ephemera: Europe-Russia.
4 Ephemera: Europe-Spain, Portugal, Italy.
5 Ephemera: Europe-France, Switzerland, Belgium.
6 Ephemera: Europe-Norway, Finland.
7 Ephemera: Europe-Austria, Germany.
8 Ephemera: Europe-Austria, Germany.
Box Folder
6 1 Ephemera: Africa.
2 Ephemera: Alaska.
3 Ephemera: Asia.
4 Ephemera: Asia.
5 Ephemera: Asia.
6 Ephemera: Caribbean, South America.
7 Ephemera: Pacific Islands.
8 Maps.
9 Lindblat Brochures.
Box Folder
7 1 Travel notebooks: 1964, 1967, 1968, 1979, 1984.
2 Travel notebooks: 1970, 1977(3), 1980(?).
3 Travel notebooks: 1966, 1968(2), 1968-1969.
4 Travel notebooks: 1978, 1979.
5 Travel notebooks: 1972, 1973(2).
6 Travel notebooks: 1964(2), 1967, 1970(2).
7 Travel notebooks: Not dated (2).
8 Travel notebooks: Not dated (6).
9 Travel passports: 1953, 1960, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1976, 1981, 1986; Vaccination Records: 1967-1978, 1979-1981.
Box Folder
9 1953 Coronation commemorative brass bowl, England; Churchill coin in lucite, England; small bronze Buddha statue, India; 2 small porcelain plates, Bayreuth and Nefchwanstein; small porcelain bowl, Hungary; mosaic frame with picture, Persian; 2 stone eggs, Africa; small carved wood box, German; bone cup, Africa; small stone penguin, Antarctica; small stone plaque, Indai; brown leather box, France; 3 lacquered boxes with paintings on lid, Russia; small bamboo box, China; metal lipstick holder, France; metal dragon box, Cambodia; 2 coconut shell bowls, Philippines; shell pendant with painting, Iran.


Series VII: Oversize

Scope and Contents
These oversize miscellaneous documents primarily deal Ruth Hartgraves's education and profession.
Box Folder
Box Folder
1 Certificates, diplomas, metal name plate from office; 1985 Distinguished Alumnus Award: VHS videotape; 1985 Foundation Luncheon: Audio cassette; Interview for University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus Award, 05/20/1985: Audio cassette.
Box Folder
2 Framed portrait of Ruth Hartgraves; Framed cartoon of Houston, TX (this later appeared on the cover of SWB Yellow Pages).
Box Folder
3 2 framed portraits of Frank Hartgraves.
Box Folder
4 Framed portrait of Brice and Frances Ann Hartgraves.
Box Folder
5 Masonic sword.
Riding crop; 2 honorary degree robes; 1 parka.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.


American Medical Women's Association (AMWA)

Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award (UTMB)

Baylor College of Medicine

Blanton Family, Houston, Texas

Blue Bird Circle, Houston, Texas

Distinguished Professional Women's Award

Elizabeth Blackwell Award

Foundation for the Children, Houston, Texas


Hartgraves, Frank

Hartgraves, Hallie (Sister Lucia, CSM)

Hartgraves, Mary Adeline

Hartgraves, Perry

Houston Ballet Society

Houston Grand Opera

Lakeside County Club, Houston, Texas

Medical Women's International Association

Menard, Menard County, Texas

Muir, Bob

New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston

New York Infirmary for Women and Children

Nilson, Dr. Judith Ahlem


Philosophical Society of Texas


St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Houston, Texas

Scurlock Family, Houston, Texas

University of Texas at Austin

Nilson, Dr. Judith Ahlem

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Women's Fund for Research and Education, Houston, Texas

Wygant, Larry J.