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Oral history interview with Theda Rushing

Identifier: MSS-799-SC

Scope and Content

The collection consists of an oral interview with Theda Rushing, accompanied by her children, Jack D. Rushing and Bettie J. Rushing. The interview was conducted on September 9, 2005 by Michael T. Kelly and Virginia Seiser. The interview was transcribed by Virginia Seiser. An appendix consists of a letter from Theda Rushing to Virginia Seiser, concerning Ann Nolan Clark (December 15, 2005).

The topics of conversation focus primarily on Ann Nolan Clark, Sophie Aberle, Felix Cohen, and Theda Rushing's home-based sewing industry. Rushing worked as secretary for Dr. Sophie Aberle at the Albuquerque Indian School. The interview provides insight into Dr. Aberle's professional, and to a lesser extent, personal life, including Aberle's efforts to secure a County Indian Hospital. When her husband Jack relocated to Santa Fe, Aberle secured Mrs. Rushing a job at the Santa Fe Indian School, where she was Ann Nolan Clark's secretary and confidante for approximately 6 months. Rushing's impressions and reminiscences of Ann Nolan Clark are articulated in the interview.

Theda Rushing also speaks about working with renowned Indian rights attorney Felix Cohen, on a project to secure the right for Native Americans to vote in New Mexico state elections. She describes secret meetings and plots that led to Cohen's success.

Rushing also describes the evolution of her home-based sewing business, which included sewing fiesta dresses, designing embroidered ribbons, and creating UNM's official 75th anniversary banner.

Original audiocassettes are housed in CSWR vault. Compact disks are available in the collection for patron use.


  • 2005 September 9

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Theda Rushing

Theda Douglas Rushing was born on August 27, 1915, near Eufaula, OK. She attended Chilocco Indian Agricultural School (Chilocco, OK, 1934), and Haskell Institute (Lawrence, KS, 1936). She was employed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, working in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Indian Schools, and traveling to the northern Pueblo schools for site visits. She also worked for the United Pueblos Agency Branch of Plant Design and Construction, Albuquerque Area Office. She served as secretary to the regional director of the Southwestern Regional Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs, where she was employed from 1965-1977. Theda Douglas married Jack Rushing who was a coach-teacher at Albuquerque Public Schools. They had 2 children, Jack D. and Bettie J. Rushing.


1 folder (3 compact discs and transcript) plus 2 boxes (2.0 cu. ft.) of unprocessed materials and two framed items.


Rushing discusses her experiences working with Ann Nolan Clark, Sophie Aberle, Felix Cohen, and developing a home-based sewing business.

Related Archival Material

Sophie D. Aberle Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico.

Santa Fe Indian School: The First Hundred Years Project. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico.

Felix Cohen/Miguel Trujillo Private Office Files. Law Library. University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

Original audiocassettes stored in B3.

Processing Information

Please inquire with reference staff regarding access to an unprocessed addition (November 2020) of two boxes and two framed items shelved on B3-3A.
Finding Aid of the Oral history interview with Theda Rushing, 2005 September 9
Edited Full Draft
B. Silbergleit
© 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131