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National Jewish Hospital and Research Center/National Asthma Center (U.S.)



  • Usage: 1978 - 1985


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 businesspeople 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 and Research Center/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.

The National Asthma Center (NAC) also existed under a series of names. It was founded in 1907 by Fannie Lorber as the Denver Sheltering Home for Jewish Children; from 1928-1952, it was called the National Home for Jewish Children in Denver; from 1953-1956, it was the Jewish National Home for Asthmatic Children in Denver; from 1957-1972, it was the Children's Asthma Research Institute and Hospital (CARIH); and from 1973-1977, it was the National Asthma Center. In 1978, it merged with the National Jewish Hospital to become the National Jewish Hospital and Research Center/National Asthma Center (1978-1985.) It evolved from sheltering home for tuberculosis "orphans" to become a residential treatment facility for children with intractable asthma and a research hospital.

Found in 64 Collections and/or Records:

Studying Hebrew at the National Jewish Home for Asthmatic Children, after 1945

Identifier: B063.03.0011.00071

A group of unidentified children studying Hebrew at the National Jewish Home for Asthmatic Children in Denver Colorado.

Dates: after 1945

Three Girls in the Kitchen at the National Jewish Home for Asthmatic Children, between 1947-1950

Identifier: B063.03.0011.00084

Three girls in a kitchen: from left to right they are Toby Greif, Rachel Kinel (Almo), and Eileen Cohen. Eileen Cohen is washing dishes and the Toby Greif and Rachel Kinel are standing in front of a table of brown paper bags. The girls were in the care of the National Jewish Home for Asthmatic Children in Denver, which later became part of the National Jewish Hospital.

Dates: between 1947-1950

Union Pacific, 1979

Identifier: B005.01.0031.0023

Correspondence related to Union Pacific Railroad Company

Dates: 1979

Yahrzeit Lists, 1980

Identifier: B005.01.0032.0003

Yahrzeit lists, January to December

Dates: 1980