The establishment of Denver’s National Jewish Hospital, in 1899, was the result of the work of Colorado’s “Mother of Charity” – Frances Wisebart Jacobs. She dreamed of a hospital open to any person destitute and stricken with tuberculosis; a medical center where scientific research joins forces with medical treatment. She wanted to bring new hope to those suffering chronic lung disease.
Frances was born in Kentucky in 1843. After her marriage she moved with her husband to Central City in 1865 and then to Denver in 1874. She quickly became active in charity work in this growing city. She cared for the Jewish refugees herself, looking into every case.
Frances was elected president of the Hebrew Benevolent Ladies Aid Society and helped organize the non-sectarian Ladies Relief Society when she saw the work to be done was too great for one person to shoulder. Together with four religious leaders of varying faiths, she helped found the Denver’s Charity Organization Society (COS) to help consolidate charities. This grew to combine 23 different charities. She was the only woman, and the only Jewish member of the five founders of the forerunner of the Community Chest subsequently known at United Way. In the Colorado State Capitol building there are sixteen stained glass windows. Among these glass portraits, you will find a picture of Frances Wisebart Jacobs. Jacobs is also in the National Women’s Hall of Fame. To find out more about Jacobs, read her biographical sketch at the NWHOF.
Books that contain information on Frances Wisebart Jacobs:
Women of Consequence by Jeanne Varnell