Frances Wisebart Jacobs
1831 - 1892
Frances Wisebart Jacobs risked her own health to serve the poor in the slums of Denver amidst poverty and disease. Known as the “Mother of Charities,” she founded the national charity we now call the United Way.
Poverty, disease, and homelessness coexisted with myths of opportunity from Denver’s earliest gold rush days. An early Jewish settler, Jacobs recognized this cruel reality when she arrived in the 1870s. Armed only with Grandpa’s pine tar soap and a satchel stuffed with food and medicine, Frances risked her own health to serve the poor in the slums of Denver. So that the city’s penniless consumptives could breathe free, she envisioned National Jewish Hospital, established the year of her death in 1892. NJH remains the leading research and treatment center for lung disease in the world.
“Aunt Frank was that rare combination of dreamer and doer. She not only dreamed of free kindergartens and orphanages, a home for the aged and a hospital, but with good business sense brought them to reality.” — Theresa Jarecki, niece of Frances Jacobs