National Jewish Hospital (U.S.)

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Non-sectarian sanatorium for treatment of tuberculosis opened in 1899 in Denver, Colo. Patients from all over the U.S. were admitted free of charge. With the assistance of the national B'nai B'rith fraternal organization, the hospital was founded by group of Jewish residents of Denver who were of German descent. Early founders included Frances Wisebart Jacobs and Rabbi William Friedman of Denver's Congregation Emmanual. Samuel Grabfelder served as president from 1899-1929; Seraphine Pisko was executive secretary from 1911-1942. In 1997 the organization changed its name to National Jewish Medical and Research Center and focused on lung, allergic and immune diseases.

From the description of National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives records, 1899-1998. (University of Denver, Penrose Library). WorldCat record id: 40455359

One of the first people to conceive of a free hospital for the indigent tuberculosis victims in Denver, Colorado, was Frances Wisebart Jacobs. She realized the reality of the situation in Denver, launching a relentless campaign to arouse public awareness on behalf of the indigent consumptives. She sought out businessmen and political leaders to get their support in raising funds for a new hospital. She found an ally in a young, energetic rabbi who had just come to Denver, Rabbi William Sterne Friedman. Rabbi Friedman enlisted the financial support of some of the trustees of his congregation, Temple Emanuel, pleading that concern for the sick and indigent has always been a vital tenet of Jewish tradition.

Mrs. Jacobs was the impetus behind the founding of the hospital which finally opened its doors in 1899, National Jewish Hospital was the first sanatorium in Denver for tuberculosis victims. With the financial assistance of the International Order of B'nai B'rith, the hospital opened its doors to Jews and gentiles alike. This vital support came largely through the efforts of Louis Anfenger, a prominent local Jewish citizen who was also a founder of both Temple Emanuel and the Denver B'nai B'rith. The National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives opened with one hospital building - the Frances Jacobs Hospital Building. Samuel Grabfelder of Louisville, Kentucky, was named president, and Alfred Mueller was named secretary.

As a result of this national support, National Jewish Hospital introduced a revolutionary concept to tuberculosis treatment by offering free services to indigent consumptives. The minutes of September 24, 1899, state that "no pay shall be accepted from any patient and that the hospital should be absolutely free to those suffering from consumption, who are unable for want of means to procure proper attention." Only patients with incipient tuberculosis, where treatment could be most efficacious, were to be admitted to NJH, and the length of stay was limited to six months. These conditions reflect the medical opinion of the time and the scarcity of hospital beds for consumptives. It was commonly thought that attempting to treat advanced cases only wasted time and money that could be more profitably directed toward patients who had a good chance of recovery. For over a century, the National Jewish Hospital has provided quality medical care to people from all over the nation.

In 1978, National Jewish Hospital merged with the National Asthma Center, whose records are also part of the Ira M. Beck Memorial Archives. Today National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine continues to treat patients from throughout the country with cutting-edge medicine and research.

From the guide to the National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives' records, 1899-2000, (Ira M. Beck Memorial Archives, Special Collections and Archives, Penrose Library, University of Denver, 2150 E. Evans Ave., Denver, CO 80208-2007)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf National Jewish Hospital (U.S.). Correspondence to Chaim Potok, 1967-1976. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf National Jewish Hospital (U.S.). History and reports 1930. Denver Public Library, Central Library
referencedIn Anfenger, Milton L. (Milton Louis), 1874-1952. Milton Louis Anfenger papers, 1896-1953. University of Denver, University Libraries, Anderson Academic Commons
creatorOf National Jewish Hospital (U.S.). National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives records, 1899-1998. University of Denver, University Libraries, Anderson Academic Commons
referencedIn University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [John A. DiBiaggio, 1979-1985], undated, 1952-1986. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
referencedIn Joseph Clark Grew papers, 1904-1948 Houghton Library
creatorOf National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives' records, 1899-2000 Ira M. Beck Memorial Archives, Special Collections and Archives, Penrose Library, University of Denver, 2150 E. Evans Ave., Denver, CO 80208-2007
referencedIn National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives' records, 1899-2000 Ira M. Beck Memorial Archives, Special Collections and Archives, Penrose Library, University of Denver, 2150 E. Evans Ave., Denver, CO 80208-2007
referencedIn Don Shoemaker Papers, 1937-1998 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Gore Vidal papers, 1850-2020 (inclusive), 1936-2008 (bulk) Houghton Library
referencedIn Baron de Hirsch Fund Records, undated, 1819-1991 (bulk 1882-1935) American Jewish Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Rehabilitation--Colorado--Denver
Colorado
Colorado--Denver
United States
Subject
Tuberculosis--Hospitals--Colorado--Denver
Acculturation
Tuberculosis--Patients--Rehabilitation
Medical centers--Colorado--Denver
Tuberculosis
Asthmatics--Rehabilitation--Colorado--Denver
Jewish women
Tuberculosis--Hospitals
Sanatoriums--Colorado--Denver
Jews--Cultural assimilation--United States
Jewish women--Colorado--Denver
Jews
Jews--Colorado--Denver
Tuberculosis--Patients--Rehabilitation--Colorado
Jews--Cultural assimilation
Tuberculosis--Treatment--Colorado--Denver
Acculturation--United States
Asthma--Treatment
Medical centers
Tuberculosis--United States
Asthmatics
Jewish women--United States
Sanatoriums
Lungs--Diseases, Obstructive
Asthma--Treatment--Colorado--Denver
Tuberculosis--Treatment
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Active 1899

Active 1998

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