James T. Rugh, M.D. (1867-1942)
Second Chairman (1918-1930)
First James Edwards Professor (1930-1939)
James Torrence Rugh (Jefferson, 1892) succeeded
Wilson as Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1918. At the time of his appointment
Rugh was on active duty with the Army Medical
Corps and did not return to Jefferson until 1919. Originally
appointed to the Orthopaedic faculty by
Wilson in 1905, Rugh brought extensive clinical
experience to the Professorship. He had been
the first orthopaedic surgeon appointed to the
Methodist Hospital in 1905. He was appointed to
the orthopaedic staff of Philadelphia General
Hospital in 1912 and in 1914 became Clinical
Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Woman's
Medical College of Pennsylvania. At one time
he was consulting orthopaedic surgeon to six
Philadelphia-area hospitals. In addition to these
obligations, Rugh worked closely with Wilson at
Jefferson during the period 1905 to 1918.
Rugh had gained valuable experience with the
surgical treatment of battle casualties during World
War I. He rapidly applied these surgical lessons to
patient problems at Jefferson. During Rugh's term
as Department Chairman the treatment of
orthopaedic disabilities gradually shifted from the
mechanical methods used by his predecessors to
modern open surgical correction. Between 1920
and 1930, Rugh operated several times at Jefferson
on a young boy to correct severe bilateral clubfoot
deformity. As fate would have it, this same young
patient would grow up to become Chairman of
the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1970.
J. Torrence Rugh was an open charismatic
man, greatly admired by his colleagues, students,
and patients. The Class of 1934 presented his
portrait to the Medical College. In making the
presentation the students said: "To the students on
the benches, Dr. Rugh presents his thoughts
with clearness, simplicity and a forceful manner
so desirable in teaching and his clinical
demonstrations afford a lasting visualization of the
principle he sets forth."
Rugh was assisted in his work at Jefferson by
Arthur J. Davidson (Jefferson, 1907), an Associate
Professor, and James R. Martin (Jefferson, 1910) as Assistant Professor. Martin had served as Chief
Resident Physician in Jefferson Hospital before
joining the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
For many years he functioned as Rugh's assistant
in the private practice of orthopaedic surgery.
In 1930 the Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery was
endowed by a gift of $100,000 in memory of
James Edwards, a manufacturer of children's shoes
in Philadelphia. Rugh became the first James
Edwards Protessor of Orthopaedic Surgery and,
since 1930, each succeeding Department Chairman
has received that title.
An associate of the time described Rugh in
these words: "Dr. Rugh is a hard-working,
democratic man, strongly conservative by nature,
temperate in his habits, always kindly, pleasant
and optimistic and with a keen sense of humor.
As a teacher, he is practical and straightforward,
strongly reliant upon experience and his
presentations are clear and concise. He is revered
by his staff and associates and beloved by his
Rugh was a frequent contributor to the
orthopaedic literature and was well regarded
nationally. He was a member of both the
American Orthopaedic Association and the
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He
served as Vice President of the American
Orthopaedic Association in 1917 and again in 1929.
During his time as Chairman both the Thompson
Annex and Curtis Clinic buildings were opened.
The orthopaedic patient load increased, and the
corrective work carried out in the hospital and
outpatient clinic developed to a high degree of
efficiency. Rugh retired as Chairman in 1939 at the
age of 72 years and was succeeded by Dr. James R. Martin. He died in 1942.