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Jewish Consumptive Relief Society, Denver, Colorado, 1904-1940

Compiled by Terry Lasky

This database contains records of 7,190 patients at the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS) in Denver, Colorado, 1904-1940.

The Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS) was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1904 as a non-sectarian sanatorium to treat tuberculosis (TB) patients in all stages of the disease.  The society was founded by a group of immigrant Eastern European Jewish men, many of whom were themselves victims of TB.  For decades, patients flocked to Denver from all over North America and were admitted free of charge.  In the early years, the sanatorium was headed by Dr. Charles Spivak as secretary (1904-1927) and Phillip Hillkowitz as president (1904-1948) and catered primarily to Jewish patients in a distinctly Jewish environment.  In 1954, the institution changed its mission to cancer research, becoming the American Medical Center.

The collection, housed at the University of Denver Penrose Library, includes correspondence, patient records, minutes, reports, and photographs from 1904 through 1973.  The JCRS records shed light on issues of tuberculosis treatment and medical history, immigration and acculturation, the growth and development of Colorado's Jewish Community, and women's history.

The collection is of significant genealogical importance.  A standard patient's file often includes the original application, landsmanshaften affiliation, and personal correspondence between the hospital, patient, and the patient's family in other American and Canadian cities.  There are often names and addresses of relatives, ages of the patient's children, Denver burial location, and the patient's birth city.  The earliest death dates in the collection are of importance since the State of Colorado did not always issue death certificates at the turn of the twentieth century, making the JCRS patient file the only record of death in some cases.

The index is composed of a number of columns of information, all taken directly from the individual patient files:

  1. SURNAME: patient surname
  2. GIVEN NAME: patient given name
  3. NAME VAR: other patient surnames
  4. SEX: male or female
  5. ADMIT AGE: age at which patient was admitted
  6. BIRTH CITY: patient's birth city
  7. BIRTH STATE: patient's birth state
  8. BIRTH COUNTRY: patient's birth country
  9. WHEN CAME TO USA: patient's immigration date
  10. OCCUPATION: patient's occupation
  11. CONTRACTED CITY: city where patient contracted TB
  12. CONTRACTED STATE: state where patient contracted TB
  13. CONTRACTED COUNTRY: country where patient contracted TB
  14. CIVIL COND: marital status

This index only contains a portion of each patient's available data.  Only patients from 1904 through 1940 are included in the index.  Once a person has been identified in the index, one needs to go to the Penrose Library search engine and locate that patient in the official site.  The full patient file can then be requested through the Beck Archives at the University of Denver, by contacting Thyria Wilson at (303) 871-3012.  Patients who were in the hospital after 1940 can only be researched by directly contacting Thyria Wilson.

Information about dates of admittance and release, children of the patient, notes about family members, burial information and all correspondence between the doctors, the patients and their families is not included in the index.  All of this information is available through the Beck Archives of the Penrose library, in Collection B002.  Only those records from 1904 through 1940 are included, due to privacy constraints that require 70 years before the records can be released.

This database was put together by volunteers from the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado and the staff of the Beck Archives.  The project was coordinated by Terry Lasky.

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