Collection CHC5293 - Ruston Academy Records

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Ruston Academy Records


  • 1928-2012 (Creation)


5 Boxes

Name of creator

Biographical history

Opened in September 1920 in Havana by educator Hiram Ruston, The Ruston Academy was considered the premiere American school in Latin America. Originally focused on providing an English college-preparatory education for the children of American expatriates in Cuba, it quickly grew into a bilingual academy with a multinational student body. In the 1940s, Ruston expanded to include an elementary school, business preparatory program, basic English classes for Cuban students, and a boarding school, with enrollment measuring at roughly 750 students. In 1955 Ruston moved to a new, larger campus in Havana.

The school was founded by retired English teacher Hiram Hall Ruston and his sister Martha Ruston, of Princeton, Indiana. Mr. Ruston served as headmaster from 1920 to his death in 1946, after which James Baker took over the school's administration. James and his wife Sibyl inherited ownership of the school and converted it into an educational non-profit foundation.

Ruston Academy was closed down by the Castro government in 1961. Its former location was used as a public school, storage facility, homeless shelter, and military intelligence facility by the Cuban government.

The Ruston-Baker Educational Institution (RBEI) was founded in 1992 by James Baker and former members of the Ruston Academy Board of Directors, with the goal of reopening Ruston Academy following the collapse of the Castro government. The RBEI maintains a network of alumni located across the globe. Sibyl Baker died in 1993 and James Baker died in 2001. Their sons, Dennis and Chris, remain active in RBEI activities and organizing alumni reunions.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Ruston Academy Records contain materials related to the Ruston Academy, a bilingual American school founded in Havana, Cuba, in 1920. It also contains the administrative files of the Ruston-Baker Educational Institution, Inc., a group of alumni and friends organized to plan for a possible re-opening of the school in a post-Revolutionary Cuba. Other materials include photographs, programs, directories and correspondence documenting the history of Ruston Academy alumni reunions held in the United States from 1975 to 2012.

The Ruston Academy records are arranged into three series. Series 1, Ruston Academy, contains ephemera, publications, correspondence and alumni directories; Series 2, Ruston-Baker Educational Institution, Inc. administrative files documents the administrative history of the organization with correspondence, meeting minutes and subject files related to RBEI, Inc. projects; and Series 3, James and Sibyl Baker papers, contain personal papers related to Ruston Academy directors, James and Sibyl Baker, including anniversary and memorial tributes and the manuscripts for James Baker's book on the history of Ruston Academy, Ruston: From Dreams to Reality (2007).

Ruston Academy yearbooks from 1940 to 1960, ephemera and photographs of the school and school functions, school publications, and photographs from alumni reunions have been digitized and are availabe via the University of Miami Digital Collections.

System of arrangement

The Ruston Academy records are arranged into three series. Series 1, Ruston Academy; Series 2, Ruston-Baker Educational Institution, Inc. administrative files; Series 3, James and Sibyl Baker papers.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

The collection is open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Requests to publish or display materials from this collection require written permission from the rights owner. Please contact for more information.

Preferred citation: Ruston Academy Records, Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables, Florida.

Languages of the material

  • English
  • Spanish

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Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Chris Baker donated 1 box of materials, October 2012. Chris Baker donated 4 more boxes of the Ruston Academy and Ruston Academy Foundation/Ruston-Baker Educational Institution, Inc. records in March 2013.

Immediate source of acquisition

Gift of Chris Baker, President of Ruston-Baker Educational Institution, October 2012 and March 2013.

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Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Selected materials from this collection have been digitized.

Related archival materials

Baker, Sibyl Evans. In Gay Havana, operetta in three acts for mixed voices. Willis Music, 1942.

CHC5212 Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project interview with Chris and Dennis Baker:

Alumni and former faculty of the Ruston Academy maintain a website that contains digital copies of yearbooks and a copy of James Baker's history of the school, Ruston: From Dreams to Reality, published by the Ruston-Baker Educational Institution in 2007.

Information about related materials is available at

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Rights Statement:

The text of this webpage is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).

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