Gertrude E. Durden Rush, lawyer, women's leader, and songwriter, was born on August 5, 1880, in Navasota, Texas, the daughter of Frank and Sarah E. (Reinhardt) Durden. Her family moved to Kansas in the early 1880s as part of the exodus from the south to the Midwest. She spent her childhood in Kansas, attended high school in Parsons, Kansas, and in 1914 graduated from Des Moines College in Iowa with a bachelor of arts. On December 23, 1907, she married attorney James B. Rush, who taught her law. Mrs. Durden became the first black woman to practice law in Iowa after passing the bar in 1918. She was active in a number of church and civic organizations. In 1912 she founded the Charity League and Protection Home. The League established a home where working women could lease inexpensive rooms. It also secured the appointment of a black probation officer to the juvenile court and a black caseworker to Associated Charities in Des Moines. From 1911 to 1915 Gertrude Durden was president of the Iowa State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. She was a charter member of the Board of Directors of the Des Moines Health Center. She was also the chairman of the Mother's Department of the National Association of Colored Women and from 1924 to 1926 was secretary of Des Moines Comfort Station Commission. In 1924, after four years as chairman of the Citizenship Department of the Women's Auxiliary to the National Baptist Convention, she was elected attorney for that organization. She was also a member of the Eastern Star. She published two songs, "If You but Knew" (1905) and the popular "Jesus Loves the Little Children" in 1907.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Rush, Gertrude Durden,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 13, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
January 1, 1996
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