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National Jewish Hospital (U.S.)

 Organization

In the late nineteenth century, Denver, Colorado, faced a severe social problem when hundreds of people severely ill with tuberculosis converged on the city, attracted by the reputation Denver had already acquired as the "world's sanatorium." Because of the onslaught of consumptives, beds for patients in city and state general hospitals were so scarce that the poor were frequently left to their own devices, often dying in the streets. One of the first people to conceive of a free hospital for the indigent tuberculosis victims in Denver was Frances Wisebart Jacobs. She launched a relentless campaign to arouse public awareness on behalf of the indigent consumptives, seeking the support of business people and political leaders to raise funds for a new hospital. Jacobs found an ally in a young rabbi, William Sterne Friedman. Rabbi Friedman enlisted the financial support of some of the trustees of his congregation, Temple Emanuel, insisting that concern for the sick and indigent had always been a vital tenet of Jewish tradition. The original hospital, the Frances Jacobs Hospital, was not completed because of the silver panic of 1893. The hospital received financial assistance from the International Order of B'nai B'rith. This vital support came mainly through the efforts of Louis Anfenger, a local Jewish citizen who was also a founder of both Temple Emanuel and the Denver chapter of B'nai B'rith. National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives (NJH) opened its doors to Jews and gentiles alike in 1899 as the first sanatorium in Denver for tuberculosis victims. Samuel Grabfelder of Louisville, Kentucky served as president from 1899-1920; Seraphine Pisko was executive secretary (Director) from 1911-1938. Some of the physicians associated with the hospital included Dr. Saling Simon, Dr. Robert Levy, and Dr. John Elsner. The NJH adopted a program that emphasized the benefits of fresh air, proper nutrition, and rest.

As a result of national support, NJH introduced a revolutionary concept to tuberculosis treatment by offering free services to indigent consumptives. The motto was, "None can pay who enter, and None who enter can pay." Only patients with incipient tuberculosis, where treatment could be most effective, 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. National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives changed its name several times, subsequently being known as National Jewish Hospital (1925-1964) and later becoming National Jewish Hospital and Research Center (1965-1977), National Jewish Hospital/National Asthma Center (after merging with National Asthma Center in 1978), and National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine (1986-1996). In 1997, the organization changed its name to the National Jewish Medical and Research Center and focused on lung, allergic and immune diseases. It was renamed National Jewish Health in July 2008. The facility continues to treat patients from throughout the country, using cutting-edge medicine and research.

Found in 10 Collections and/or Records:

Dr. Emanuel Friedman Papers

 Collection
Identifier: B288
Overview Dr. Emanuel Friedman came to Colorado in the late 19th century when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He graduated from Denver's Gross Medical College in 1904. After recovering his health, he opened his office on West Colfax Avenue in the immigrant Jewish community and became one of Denver's first pediatricians. He also served on the medical staff at National Jewish Hospital (NJH) and the Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society (JCRS). The collection consists of copies of photographs of...
Dates: 1900-1975

Isidor Bronfin, M.D. Papers

 Collection
Identifier: B174
Overview Isidor D. Bronfin was born in 1886 in Russia and migrated to the United States in 1902. He earned a medical degree from the University of the State of New York in 1911--the same year that he became a U.S. citizen. Bronfin was a noted authority on tuberculosis treatment and authored several publications on the topic. Within the Colorado medical community and at the national level, he served in a number of leadership roles including medical director of the Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society...
Dates: 1911-1939

Jean and Milt Morris Papers

 Collection
Identifier: B275
Overview Milt Morris was born in Cleveland in 1915 and his family moved to Denver to find a cure for his mother's asthma at National Jewish Hospital. He graduated from the University of Denver College of Law in 1939. Milt Morris served in the Army Air Force during World War II. He taught business law at DU for eleven years. He practiced law in Denver for many years and was a partner in Feder, Morris, Tamblyn and Goldstein where he specialized in real estate law. In 1941, Jean Wohlegarth married her...
Dates: 1888-2007

Jewish Social Service Federation Records

 Collection
Identifier: B376
Overview The Jewish Social Service Federation was founded in 1912 and ceased operations in 1916. It was organized as a federation of the Jewish charities and social service agencies of Denver. Garfield A. Berlinsky was head of the Denver Federation, but resigned in 1915. He investigated conditions in Denver for the National Conference of Jewish Charities. National Jewish Hospital and some community members criticized his report and methods. "The Story of the Opposition of the National Jewish Hospital...
Dates: 1915

John Elsner, M.D. Collection

 Collection
Identifier: B186
Overview Dr. John Elsner was born in Vienna on May 4, 1844 and migrated to America as a young man. Elsner graduated from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. In 1866, he graduated from the Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York. After becoming interested in the American West, he led a wagon train into Colorado in 1866 and was Denver's first Jewish physician. He was appointed Denver County physician in 1870 and was the prime mover in the establishment of Denver's first general hospital (now...
Dates: 1920-1981

Leonid Heifets Papers

 Collection
Identifier: B363
Overview Leonid B. Heifets was born 1926 in what is now Belarus. Dr. Heifets began his medical training at age 16, obtaining an MD, PhD and ScD. He participated with the World Health Organization as a member of Russian medical expeditions to the Congo in 1960 and 1962. He immigrated to the United States in 1979 and was employed by the National Jewish Hospital as head of the Mycobacteriology laboratory for 32 years. In 1994 and 1994 he went to Botswana and South Africa as an American expert on...
Dates: 2009-2014

Milton Louis Anfenger Papers

 Collection
Identifier: B091
Overview Milton L. Anfenger was an attorney, Colorado state senator, humanitarian, and civic leader who lived in Denver, Colorado. He was president of National Jewish Hospital and the Denver Bears Baseball Club. He was a member of the Elks, Masons, Shriners, and B'nai B'rith. The papers include newspapers, newspaper clippings, invitations, photographs, and scrapbooks.
Dates: 1892-1953

National Jewish Hospital Records

 Collection
Identifier: B005
Overview In 1899, the Jewish community erected the non-sectarian National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives (NJH), the first sanatorium in Denver, Colorado, for tuberculosis victims. With the financial assistance of the International B'nai B'rith fraternal organization, patients from all over the U.S. were admitted free of charge. The NJH adopted a program that emphasized the benefits of fresh air, proper nutrition, and rest. The hospital was founded by a group of Jewish residents of Denver who were of...
Dates: 1892-

Ray David Papers

 Collection
Identifier: B226
Overview Ray Morris David was known as the "Little Mother to the Poor" in Denver after she was hired to supervise relief activities for the Denver Jewish Aid Society. Ray David was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1864, the daughter of German Jewish parents, and died in Denver, Colorado in 1945. She married David David in 1885, but was widowed early and had to support five children. Her first paid position was as a quasi-social worker at National Jewish Hospital and she worked with Seraphine...
Dates: 1888-1982

Robert Levy Papers

 Collection
Identifier: B372
Overview Dr. Robert Levy (1864-1945) began attending the University of Denver in 1880. Most of the signatures in the autograph album date from when he was a student at the university. He started practicing medicine in Denver in 1884 after training at Bellevue Hospital. He helped found National Jewish Hospital and Gross Medical College. He served as president of the Denver and Colorado medical societies. Publications in the collection by Dr. Levy are on medical education and on the effect of climate and...
Dates: 1881-1945