Frances Wisebart Jacobs: Health Care Activist


When: 1843 – 1892

frances_wisebart_jacobsWhere: Central City and Denver

Why Important: She helped establish the Jewish Hospital Association of Colorado, now called National Jewish Hospital.

National Jewish Hospital(credit: Denver Public Library)

National Jewish Hospital
(credit: Denver Public Library)

Biography

Frances Wisebart Jacobs was born March 29, 1843 in Kentucky to Bavarian immigrants. The family later moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where her father Leon Wisebart worked as a tailor. Frances and her six siblings attended public schools. She married Abraham Jacobs in 1863.

The couple moved to Central City, Colorado, and had three children: Benjamin, Evelyn, and a child who died early. Benjamin became a lawyer and Evelyn became a teacher.

In 1870, the family moved to Denver. Frances saw a lot of poverty, suffering, and sickness in the Jewish Community and wanted to help. In 1872, she founded the Hebrew Ladies’ Relief Society. However, Frances soon saw that people from all backgrounds were affected by the same issues. So, she formed the Denver Ladies’ Relief Society.1 Then she founded the first free kindergarten in Denver, and later the Charity Organization Society, later called United Way. Jacobs became known as Denver’s “mother of charities.”

In addition, Frances helped people suffering from tuberculosis. She visited patients and brought them food, clothing, and house supplies. She was not afraid to touch a sick person and did not flinch at the sight of blood. Jacobs worked to create a hospital for tuberculosis2 in order to treat the large numbers of patients living in the Denver area.

On October 9, 1892, the Jewish Hospital Association of Colorado was founded to treat tuberculosis – her dream came true! Frances died one month later. The Hospital was named the Frances Jacobs Hospital in her honor. In 1900 the name was changed again to the National Jewish Hospital.3 The hospital is located today at Colfax and Colorado Boulevard in Denver; it still specializes in tuberculosis.

Content Date: Jan. 1, 1843 to Jan. 1, 1892

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