Isidor Clinton Rubin, MD papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US AA009

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Isidor Clinton Rubin, MD papers


  • 1904-1959 (Creation)


6.29 linear feet: 6 document boxes (legal) - 30 inches; 2 oversize print boxes - 25 inches and 20.5 inches

Name of creator


Biographical history

Isidor Clinton Rubin was born January 8, 1883 in Vienna, Austria. His parents were Nehemiah and Froma (Keller) Rubin. He attended the College of the City of New York and graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in 1905. For the next three years, he served as an intern and then a resident at the Mount Sinai Hospital.

In 1909, Rubin, along with Dr. Abraham Hyman, went abroad for additional post-graduate training. He traveled in Austria and Germany and studied with Professor Julius Schottlander, Pathologist of the II University Frauenklinik in Vienna. In 1954 he dedicated the publication of his Collected Works to Dr. Schottlander.

Upon his return to the United States, Dr. Rubin set up a private practice and took appointments on the Gynecology staffs at Mount Sinai, Montefiore, and Beth Israel Hospitals. He also worked at the Harlem Hospital for some years. He held a clinical faculty appointment on the Gynecology staff of the College of Physicians and Surgeons from 1937-47. He also taught at the New York Medical College and New York University medical school. In 1945, he retired from active service at Mount Sinai and became a Consultant to the Hospital.

Dr. Rubin's reputation was built on his work in several areas. He was among the first to apply x-rays in the practice of gynecology. He also did work on carcinoma of the cervix, uterine Endoscopy, and ectopic pregnancy. (See his Collected Works for a list of papers.)

He is perhaps best known for what is called the Rubin Test. This is a test to determine the patency of the fallopian tubes; if the tubes are blocked, sterility results. The test consists of insufflating a gaseous medium (originally oxygen, later changed to carbon dioxide) into the uterine cavity. Rubin performed the first test on November 3, 1919 at The Mount Sinai Hospital. Prior to the development of the Rubin Test, doctors could only test patency with any certainty by performing a surgical procedure called a laparotomy. In other cases, where the tubal factor had not been explored, other operative procedures were used to relieve sterility when, in fact, the problem was due to closed fallopian tubes. In sum, the Rubin Test reduced the number of surgical procedures needed to diagnose and treat sterility in women. It also had therapeutic value in that it relieved some cases of dysmenorrhea and sometimes facilitated conception.

Dr. Rubin was very much involved in outside professional activities. In 1928 he served as President of the New York Obstetrical Society. He was a founding member of the American College of Surgeons and the American Board of Obstetrics. In 1955-56, he was the President of the American Gynecological Society. He also helped edit the International Journal of Fertility, Fertility and Sterility, Gynecologie Pratique and the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Rubin received many awards over his life. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Gynecological Society and the New York Obstetrical Society. In 1947, he won the ORTHO Award, and received the rank of Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor. In 1954, he became Officier of this group. He was awarded honorary degrees from the University of Athens in 1952 and the Sorbonne in 1955. In 1957, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists awarded him an Honorary Fellowship. His alma mater, the College of the City of New York, chose him for their Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Dr. Isidor Rubin married Sylvia Unterberg in 1914. When he died, while at a conference in London on July 10, 1958, he was survived by three children, Dr. Harvey N. Rubin, Carol R. Meyer, and Edith R. Fishel.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The papers found in this collection are overwhelmingly of a professional nature: notebooks, notes, papers, reprints. Still, it is possible in reviewing these files to get some insights into Dr. Rubin as a person. The records that serve best to do this are the letters written to him over the years (Box 1) and the photographs that came as a part of this collection. Also, interspersed with his notes (see, for instance Box 3, f.2), are sheets of paper filled with "jottings", lists of trite phrases that seemed to have some relationship, one to the next. In the file of his own writings (Box 1, f.8), further aspects of him can be seen in a note on ancestral worship, and a letter to his wife in 1921. Also of note here is a file compiled in 1935 during a failed attempt to secure Dr. Rubin a Nobel Prize for his development of the Rubin Test. (See Box 2, f.5)

The professional material contains notes and raw data, as well as papers in progress and his collected works. The notebooks include those from his medical school days at Columbia Physicians and Surgeons in 1904 and 1905, as well as notes taken while studying in Vienna. Some of the latter were written in German. The notebooks are arranged chronologically.

The Papers/Reprints files are arranged alphabetically by subject or title, depending on how Rubin labeled the folders. These papers are mostly all undated. The files many times contain long notes on the topic and show Rubin's thoughts and questions he wanted to solve. If no paper was included in the file with the notes, they were simply labeled "Notes" and filed under that heading.

Other items of particular interest or value in this collection include the typed copies of articles relating to fibroid tumors, dating from 1878-1932. (Box 1, f.3) There is a long note about a visit he made to Austria in the early 1920's where he discusses the changes brought by the First World War. (Box 1, f.8) Finally, there are operative assignments from 1911, listing which operations Dr. Rubin performed on a given day and his notes about the case. On these, and throughout the collection, there are many drawings to illustrate pathology or technique. Any patient information here is restricted according to the law and the policies of the Archives.

One of the more interesting parts of this collection is the photographs that accompany it. They date from 1907-1958, mostly black and white. Of special note are a series of snapshots from the Rubins' trip to Greece in June, 1952 to receive an honorary degree from the University of Athens. There is also a photograph of Dr. Rubin's private examining room in 1911. Dr. Hiram Vineberg is pictured in Mount Sinai's clinical amphitheatre in 1907, supervising an operation without surgical masks. There are also many photos of unidentified babies, usually with an inscription of thanks to Dr. Rubin.

Many of the photographs are oversize. These can be found in Box 7. The photographs of events, many in rolls, are stored in Box 6. Memorabilia, a Jacobi Medallion and two souvenir money clips, have been placed in Box 5.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Access is partially restricted due to the presence of HIPAA-protected Personal Health Information. Please contact the Archives ( for additional information.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Languages of the material

  • English
  • German

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Generated finding aid

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

This collection was created from records from Dr. Rubin's office at The Mount Sinai Hospital and from material donated to the Archives by Mrs. Sylvia Rubin, c 1975.

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Notes element

Specialized notes

  • Processing information: Rehoused oversized items, mainly photographs, in June 2022.

Alternative identifier(s)

Legacy ID from CMS


OCLC Number


Description control element

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Sources used

Archivist's note

Processed by Barbara J. Niss in May 1987.
Updated by J.E. Molly Seegers in June 2022.

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Accession area