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National Council of Jewish Women, Denver Section Records

 Collection
Identifier: B094

The National Council of Jewish Women, Denver Section (NCJW) was a women's philanthropic organization founded by Carrie Benjamin in October 1893 to serve the Denver, Colorado Jewish community. Most of the early members were members of Temple Emanuel in Denver and the collection details the contributions of women to social causes in Denver. Education was an early priority of the Denver Section and classes were held to serve Eastern European Jewish immigrants in the West Colfax area of Denver. The Council established a settlement house in West Denver for Jewish boys, worked with disabled children and initiated the Children's Traveling Theatre. During World War II, the Council was involved in the resettlement of Jewish refugees in Denver. In 1938 the Council opened a thrift shop at 27th Street and Welton Street in the Five Points area of Denver. The records include board of director meeting minutes, lists of officers and board members, correspondence, financial records, newspaper clippings, newsletters, bulletins, yearbooks, publications, invitations, scrapbooks and oral history audiocassette tapes.

Dates

  • 1894-1999
  • Majority of material found in 1927-1962

Creator

Extent

8.0 Linear Feet (7 containers)

Scope and Contents

The National Council of Jewish Women, Denver Section Records date from 1894 to 1999 and include Board of Director meeting minutes, lists of officers and board members, correspondence, financial records, newspaper clippings, newsletters, bulletins, yearbooks, invitations, publications, scrapbooks, event materials, as well as essays and reports providing historical background information on NCJW and the Denver Section. The records also include oral history audiocassette tapes. The materials document the activities of a Jewish women's organization in Denver and the contributions of the women to social causes in Colorado.

Biographical / Historical

Susan B. Anthony was determined that women should participate in the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. Anthony assigned Hannah G. Solomon the task of organizing a group of Jewish women to participate in the Fair. Solomon invited 90 Jewish women to attend the events in Chicago. During discussions at the the Parliament of Religions of the Chicago World's Fair, Solomon convinced her Jewish colleagues of the need for a national organization, and so began the National Council of Jewish Women. Among the women attending the session was Carrie Benjamin, who returned home to Denver, Colorado and organized the Council's Denver section in October 1893. Thirty-nine women met at Temple Emanuel and elected Carrie Benjamin the first president.

Carrie Benjamin and the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) worked in the areas of religion, teaching, and philanthropy. Eventually the Council would take a stand on various social issues and reach out to help the community at large. Education was one of the Denver Section's first efforts. They taught classes on West Colfax Avenue to recent Eastern European immigrants, including cooking and sewing classes. Kindergartens (not yet a part of the public school system) were established. By 1908 the Council's adult evening classes offered a variety of subjects, including hammered brass, literature, dramatics, debating and Jewish studies.

In 1910 the Council supervised a summer playground at Cheltenham School on West Colfax Avenue and Julian Street. The Council also established a Citizen's Committee For Public Schools, which worked with other civic organizations to improve Denver's schools and to secure the necessary financial support by issuing bonds. The Council worked closely with Judge Ben Lindsey, founder of Denver's Juvenile Court, and founded a Settlement House in West Denver for Jewish boys. Council members worked regularly at Wallace School (a private school for children with brain injuries) and a group of Council women founded the Children's Traveling Theatre and performed in orphanages and hospitals.

Seraphine Pisko, who served as executive secretary at National Jewish Hospital, was elected to the National Board of the Council and in 1907 was president of the Denver Section. When she saw a sign at a hotel that proclaimed ''No Jews--no consumptives,'' the Council and the Denver B'nai B'rith Lodge successfully lobbied the Colorado Legislature for a bill to prohibit such language in signs and advertisements.

The Council participated in the resettlement of refugees during the Holocaust in Germany. The Council furnished apartments for the refugees, taught them English, and instructed them how to navigate in America. The Council's Committee for Service to the Foreign Born helped members of the Denver community bring European relatives to America. All the efforts were the beginning of a resettlement program that came to prominence when the Denver Jewish Family and Children's Service was established in 1945. The Council worked closely with this agency to develop a resettlement plan known as the ''Denver Plan,'' which became a model for similar programs in other cities. The Council also cooperated with other women's organizations to implement social programs. Through WICS (Women in Community Service), the Council screened and recruited young women for the Job Corps.

The NCJW continues to develop and implement programs to improve the quality of life for people of all ages, races and religious backgrounds, striving to ensure individual rights and freedoms. The information in the organizational history is from ''Denver Section: Council of Jewish Women'' by Marjorie Hornbein in the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Notes Volume 3, Number 2, July 1980.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in seven series:; 1. Minutes and Supporting Documents, 1898-1962.; 2. Financial Records, 1927-1958.; 3. Publications, 1894-1968.; 3.1. Newsletters, Brochures and Reports; 3.2. Bulletins; 3.3. Yearbooks; 3.4. National Publications; 4. Correspondence, 1916-1966.; 5. Historical Background Information, 1941-1975.; 6. Ephemera, 1928-1972.; 7. Scrapbooks and Newspaper Clippings, 1902-1999.;

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of National Council of Jewish Women, Denver Section, December 5, 1979.

Accruals

Further accruals are expected.

Related Materials

Related materials providing oral histories about the NCJW may be found in the RMJHS Oral History Collection, B089 ||Related materials may be found in the Beck Archives Collection on Fannie Eller Lorber, B272.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

Contact:
2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428