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Collection Spotlight

Finley Violin

Did you know that Dr. John E. Finley, the namesake of Dubuque’s Finley Hospital, was also a musician and Civil War veteran?  

Dr. Finley came to Dubuque in 1840.  He practiced medicine and traveled miles on horseback to see his patients. He was also devoted to the Union cause and served as a Civil War surgeon. Although we don’t know if he had formal musical training, we do know that he took this violin with him when he left for his war service. Perhaps he played for the soldiers around camp or for his patients in a field hospital.

Once he returned from war, Dr. Finley dreamed of establishing a medical school and a hospital, neither of which happened before his death. In his will he left property to his wife Helen. Upon her death, the estate was used to found a hospital named in his honor. It opened in 1890 with just 40 beds. The hospital has undergone many renovations and expansions over the past 130 years, and today it is known as UnityPoint Health Finley Hospital.

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