Treating Tuberculosis at the World’s Sanatorium

August 2, 2023
by Ruby Johnstone

The Jewish Consumptive’s Relief Society (JCRS) was established in 1904 by a group of Eastern European Jewish immigrants in Denver, Colorado. Regarded as “the world’s sanatorium,” Colorado became a popular destination for those suffering from tuberculosis in the 1860s due to its dry climate and high altitude. In addition to housing a fully functioning farm, library, post office/co-operative store, and trade school, JCRS offered several amenities unique to their campus; a kosher-only menu, a synagogue for daily use, observance of all Jewish holidays, and a monthly bulletin curated by famed poet Solomon Bloomgarden (Yehoash) containing original Yiddish materials. The nearby National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives was larger and already well established by 1904, but they could not provide their observing Jewish patients with the same comforts of home offered by the JCRS.  

With considerable effort and generosity from Jewish communities and Ladies’ Auxiliary groups throughout the country, JCRS continued expanding its footprint to serve the hundreds of tuberculosis patients seeking treatment each year. By combining state-of-the-art medical facilities with an unparalleled residential experience, the sanatorium remained a top-tier treatment center until 1954, when antibiotics eliminated the need for tuberculosis hospitals and the JCRS turned its focus to cancer research.  

Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society (Denver, Colo.) Collection; I-333; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY.