Archives of pioneering neuropsychiatrist available for review at UIC

Dr. Abraham Low with colleagues, ca. 1940, Recovery International Collection

In 2019, Recovery International, an 80-year-old nonprofit organization focused on mental health, donated early organizational records and the personal papers of its founder, Dr. Abraham Low, to the University of Illinois Chicago’s Special Collections and University Archives at the Library of the Health Sciences–Chicago.

The material was split into two archival collections: the Abraham Low papers and the Recovery International records. Processing is complete and both collections are now available to the public.

The Abraham Low papers focus on the life of Dr. Low, from his experience being a soldier in World War I to a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, and the creation and expansion of Recovery International. The collection materials, including his personal diary, provide a deep look into Dr. Low’s life, priorities and his motivation behind creating Recovery International. He had appointments at the University of Illinois Chicago campus between 1927 and 1954.

The Recovery International records are about the creation of Recovery International, the different locations in the country where people started small recovery groups that later expanded, and the growing number of members joining the organization. The records also include publications by Abraham Low and the organization, information about the organizations and correspondence.

Processing was completed by Maria A. Vargas, then a UIUC School of Information Sciences graduate student. “Processing this collection was a unique experience for me because it was interesting to read transcripts of the group therapy sessions that Abraham Low conducted. The advice that he would give his patients was attention-grabbing because he would help them process and understand what they were experiencing during past situations and helped them find a healthy outlet,” Vargas said.

Researchers interested in mental health, and especially cognitive behavioral therapy, will find these collections of use. The collections contain correspondence with Dr. Beatrice Wade and Dr. Francis Gerty, both important figures in Chicago and national medical history. The Recovery International records in particular show the Low family’s efforts to preserve Dr. Low’s legacy and continue the organization’s work after his death in 1954.

Both collections can usually be accessed in the Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room at the Library of the Health Sciences–Chicago. However, due to COVID-19, the Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room is currently closed to the public. UIC students, faculty, and staff may make a reservation. Remote reference is available. Please contact lib-spec@uic.libanswers.com or call (312) 996-8977.

The Library of the Health Sciences–Chicago, located at 1750 W. Polk St., includes materials on medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacology and other health-related professions. Its special collections include the archival records of the Illinois Occupational Therapy Association and Horizon Hospice, as well as public health, medical education, nursing, psychiatry and neurology rare book collections, among others.

Media Contact
Carlos Sadovi
(312) 355-2491
csadovi@uic.edu