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Jewish Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center (Boston, Mass.) Records

Identifier: I-336

Scope and Content Note

This collection is comprised of six series: Governing Body, Administration, Public Relations, Pediatric Rehabilitation Program, Auxiliary, and Artifacts.

Series I contains the governing documents of the Jewish Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center. The material in this series reveals the process by which the Governing Body established hospital policy, maintained quality patient care, and provided for institutional management and planning. Most of this series consists of the meeting minutes of the Board of Directors and Board of Managers, the minutes of various board committees, and the minutes of the Annual Meeting. Of particular interest to researchers will be the original board minutes of the Bikur Cholim Association from 1923-1928. These minutes describe the charitable activities of this organization and their attempts to acquire a site for the original Jewish Memorial Hospital. Researchers will also find in this series the original charters of the Roxbury Ladies' Bikur Cholim Association (1915), the Greater Bikur Cholim Hospital (1927), and the Jewish Memorial Hospital (1937). Researchers should note that the governing documents of the hospital from the 1930s through 1940s are missing from this collection.

Series II contains the administrative files of the Jewish Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and of Donald E. Schwarz, this series documents the day-to-day activities of hospital officials, medical staff, and administrative staff from the mid-1950s to the late 1990s. Researchers should be aware that the administrative files of the hospital from the 1930s through the mid-1950s are absent from this collection.

In Subseries A, researchers will find the information contained in the Accreditation, American Hospital Association, Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts folders helpful in documenting the growth of the hospital and its patient services over a thirty-year period. All of these folders contain surveys and reports that describe the hospital at various stages of its development. Researchers should note that from 1981 to 1994 the Jewish Memorial Hospital and other chronic care hospitals were involved in several legal challenges to the regulations imposed upon them by various government agencies. These challenges are well documented in the Behar and Kalman folders, which contain various affidavits, interrogatives, opinions, legal correspondence, and court rulings.

The folders that contain the correspondence of the various Presidents, Board Members, and Executive Directors of the hospital, provide an overview of the development of the Jewish Memorial Hospital for at least a half-century. These folders include the correspondence of Presidents Nathan Buchman, Stanley M. Fertel, Robert A. Gold, Frank L. Kozol, Joseph M. Linsey, David L. Rosenberg, and David Stern. The correspondence of Executive Director Murray Fertel and Board Chairman Sydney L. Miller is also included in these files. Finally, the thousands of financial contributors to the hospital from 1929 to 1993 are well documented in this series. This fund-raising correspondence includes bequests, building pledges, celebrities nights contributions, merchandise donations, endowments, and direct donations to the hospital.

Subseries B contains the administrative files of Donald E. Schwarz. Schwarz spent twenty-one years at the Jewish Memorial Hospital starting as a co-op student from Northeastern University. He began his hospital career in the Admissions Office and held several positions over the years including Utilization Review Coordinator, Director of Quality Assurance, Assistant Administrator, Vice President of Operations, Chief Operating Officer and finally, President of the hospital. This series documents his activities at the hospital from 1969-1998.

The reports and surveys found in the Accreditation and Massachusetts Department of Public Health folders will provide researchers with an overview of the development of the hospital in the 1980s and 1990s. Furthermore, this subseries provides researchers with an opportunity to study the programs and patient services the hospital developed in the 1980s and 1990s to expand its customer base and survive in an increasingly competitive hospital environment. These programs and services include the Comprehensive Assessment and Rehabilitation Environment Unit, Complicated Obesity Rehabilitation Environment Program, Managed Health Care for the Frail and At-Risk Elderly, and the attempted development of a satellite facility at the South Shore Hospital.

These files reflect Schwarz's intimate involvement with all aspects of the hospital's administration and researchers will find a wide range of material in this subseries. For example, Schwarz was involved in the development of the hospital's budget, reviewed personnel decisions, and was a member of many of the hospital's administrative and medical committees. He also reviewed medical statistical reports on a daily and monthly basis, supervised the housekeeping, maintenance and security staffs, and managed plant operations.

Researchers should be aware that the archivist imposed the arrangement scheme in this subseries because the Schwarz files were received in a state of disarray.

Series III provides researchers with a visual, audio, and written history of the Jewish Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center.

Researchers will find that the scrapbooks, containing news clippings from various local Jewish newspapers, provide the most comprehensive historical record of the hospital in the collection. Starting in 1936 and ending in 1982, the scrapbooks review the building projects that the hospital was involved with and they report on all the significant public events that the hospital sponsored. Furthermore, researchers will discover mini-biographies of the most important people in the hospital's history in these scrapbooks.

The photographs in this series provide an almost complete visual history of the hospital. Although the bulk of the photographs consist of contact sheets, they document the various events and building developments that occurred at the hospital from 1929 to 1992. Moreover, these photographs include pictures of various staff members, patients, volunteers, and auxiliary members. Besides still photographs, this series includes videotape cassettes and motion picture film. Particularly interesting is the film, Because Someone Cares, which is a documentary review of the hospital as it existed in 1946.

Researchers will want to examine the quarterly magazine of the Jewish Memorial Hospital, Visions, and the newsletter, Jewish Memorial Hospital News. These two publications highlight and describe the many events, activities, programs, and patient services that took place at the hospital from 1966 to 1996. Finally, researchers might find the hospital surveys that describe the health resources of the Boston Jewish community in the 1940s and 1950s interesting to study.

Series IV documents the Pediatric Rehabilitation Program at the Jewish Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center. This program was designed to serve pre-school age children who had a variety of medical diagnoses including developmental delay, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, tuberous sclerosis, auditory and visual impairments, head injury, failure to thrive and lead poisoning. Although this series is limited in its scope and coverage, it does provide an introduction for researchers into this important hospital program.

eries V contains the records of the following auxiliary groups: the Women's Auxiliary and Men's Auxiliary, the North and South Shore Auxiliary, the Evening Auxiliary, the Chelsea and Brookline Auxiliary, the Greater Boston Auxiliary, the Junior Auxiliary, the Young Women's Auxiliary, and the Hospital Group. All of these organizations contributed to the development of the hospital over its history through various fund raising and voluntary activities.

Researchers will find the board minutes contained in this series helpful in studying the activities of each auxiliary. Furthermore, a review of the Celebrities Nights Program Books will provide an almost complete record of the board members and officers of both the hospital and auxiliary groups from 1950 to 1998. This series is missing the program books from 1953 to 1955 and 1997.

Most of the auxiliary scrapbooks in this series were in disrepair and needed to be disassembled. Nevertheless, the cards, tickets, notices, invitations, and flyers that were included in them have been maintained in chronological order in folders and they do provide a fairly complete description of the various activities and events sponsored by the auxiliaries from 1947 to 1986. Finally, for those individuals curious about auxiliary membership, this series contains a number of ledgers, lists, and index card files that the auxiliary groups maintained to keep track of their almost 12,000 members.

Series VI includes placques, portraits, and silverware sets from the hospital.


  • undated, 1915-1999


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at

Use Restrictions

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Historical Note

In 1913, the Roxbury Ladies' Bikur Cholim Association began collecting donations to provide a haven for the chronically ill. These charitable ladies recognized that the new Jewish immigrants, crowded into Boston's West End and North End neighborhoods, lacked basic medical care. Many of these Jewish newcomers found upon their arrival that few Jewish doctors practiced in the Boston area. Furthermore, communication between doctor and patient was difficult since many Jews spoke no English, and very few doctors spoke Yiddish. Moreover, many local doctors did not understand the particular social problems, religious traditions, and behavior patterns of the new immigrants. Finally, many Orthodox Jews refused to stay in hospitals where they could not eat kosher food and observe the Sabbath. Hence, the ladies of the Bikur Cholim, many of them immigrants, began a grassroots movement to build a medical institution for Jews who were suffering from illness and disease and who had no place to go.

Charted as an official organization in 1915, the Roxbury Ladies' Bikur Cholim Association carried on the Jewish tradition of benevolence by visiting the sick, poor, and elderly. They provided medicine, money, prayer, and support to those who lacked medical care. The ladies met regularly at the YMCA on the corner of Seaver Street and Humboldt Avenue, across from Franklin Park. Here they developed their plans for a medical institution to serve the needs of the Jewish community. On April 16, 1928, the Association voted to establish and maintain a home for incurables. Later that same year, in October, the Association realized its goal of a Jewish hospital by purchasing the former Beth Israel Hospital at 59 Townsend Street for $25,000, with a $10,000 down payment and a $15,000 mortgage. Payments were to be $900 per year at a 6% interest rate. Also in 1928, the Association joined the Federated Jewish Charities.

In 1929 the Greater Boston Bikur Cholim Hospital, with 42 beds, was officially dedicated. A medical staff consisting of volunteer physicians was organized, and a hospital-based auxiliary was formed to supply linens. At this time, the hospital was primarily a custodial institution, accepting patients other hospitals were no longer able to keep. In the early 1930s, the physiotherapy, radiology, and laboratory departments were opened. It should be noted that during the 1930s, eighty-five percent of the patients admitted received free care, and a majority of the financial support for the new hospital came from the Jewish community. A new three-story wing was dedicated in 1936, doubling the size of the hospital to 87 beds. This new wing included a complete operating room, dental department, and a kosher kitchen to ensure strict adherence to Jewish dietary laws. Finally, to reflect the changing focus of the institution the name of the hospital was changed to the Jewish Memorial Hospital in 1937.

During the early 1940s, the Jewish Memorial Hospital was a 65-bed facility that cared for terminally ill patients during their last days. Care remained largely custodial. Since the few nursing homes in existence at this time were private, the poor, sick, and elderly had limited choices for medical care. In contrast to the policies followed by these larger institutions, the Jewish Memorial Hospital welcomed all those in need.

The 1940s reflected a period in which the hospital administration expanded its commitment to providing hospital care. A training school for attendant nurses was established in 1940, and in 1941 a check-up clinic was opened for discharged patients. Construction of a new 36- bed annex to the hospital was completed in 1947. The volunteer staff was expanded and became specialized. Furthermore, new programs that included physical therapy, hydrotherapy, and x-ray therapy were added to the hospital's services. During this period, the hospital's focus began to move away from custodial care to rehabilitation and active patient care in every field of medicine. Patient referrals increased, and the waiting list for entrance into the hospital grew. In 1949 a professional medical social service department was established to work with patients and families on an individualized basis, and a limited teaching and research program with the Tufts Medical School was started. This program helped to advance the hospital's scientific approach to chronic illness.

The hospital continued to grow and receive recognition in the medical community in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1950 Raoul Duffy, the famous French post-Impressionist artist, was successfully treated with cortisone for his rheumatoid arthritis and in 1952, the first hip replacement in the Boston area took place at the hospital. In 1954 the hospital received its first accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation. As an example of the hospital's growth, in 1951 more than 35,000 prescriptions were filled by the hospital pharmacy, and the kosher kitchen was preparing 800 meals a day for both patients and staff.

Building construction continued at a rapid pace. In 1955 three floors of the Main building endowed by Emily R. and Kivie Kaplan were completed, increasing the size of the hospital to 156 beds. This new construction enabled the hospital to provide for an occupational therapy facility and expand its kitchen and dinning room areas. Moreover, an Orthodox Chapel, auditorium, research laboratory, new lobbies, elevators, and administrative offices were added. In 1962 four floors of the Kaplan building were completed, and in 1964 a new nurses residence and warehouse were built. Expansion continued and by 1968 the fourth and fifth floors of the Main building and the fifth floor of the Kaplan building had been finished. Also, a new x-ray building was erected between 1966 and 1968. By the end of the 1960s, the Jewish Memorial Hospital had increased its size to 207 beds.

During the 1970s a pulmonary care unit, behavioral neuro-psychiatric unit, and rehabilitation care unit were added. In 1971, the hospital began its affiliation with the Boston University Medical Center. This program enabled the hospital to expand its teaching program and develop its medical specialties to improve patient care. In this same year, a two-story addition to the annex was completed. Construction continued and in 1972, a new ambulance entrance, linen-processing facility and centralized employee locker room were built. The pharmacy and patient rooms were also renovated.

The high point of the 1980s was the dedication of the Murray Fertel Rehabilitation Wing in 1988. This new construction replaced the original 1880 building, the annex and the 1947 buildings. The new building centralized patient support and rehabilitation services and offered the community a modern facility with state of the art equipment.

Hospital services continued to expand in the 1980s. In 1985 the Total Parenteral Nutrition program began for patients who were unable to take oral nourishment. In that same year, the Comprehensive Assessment and Rehabilitation Environment Unit was opened. This unit was dedicated to treating individuals with behavioral and functional disorders and was the only one of its kind in the Greater Boston area. In order to provide increased care for patients who could not breathe on their own, the Pulmonary Care Unit was expanded to include services for ventilator-dependent patients in 1986. Finally, the Outpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation Program for developmentally disabled children aged three months to three years was opened in 1988.

The Jewish Memorial Hospital over its seventy-year history had moved from an institution that provided only custodial care to one that now emphasized the rehabilitation of patients. Therefore, in order to more clearly reflect the focus of the hospital's programs and to enhance its image as a life-affirming institution, the name of the hospital was changed to the Jewish Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in 1992.

As the new century approached, the hospital administration remained committed to the original goals of the Roxbury Ladies' Bikur Cholim Association. Accordingly, in the 1990s the hospital expanded its patient services by developing a Peritoneal Dialysis Service and Hemodialysis Service. In 1995, a Complicated Obesity Rehabilitation Environment Program was begun and later in the decade, the hospital established new programs in cancer management and in cardiac rehabilitation.


Carrying on the earlier tradition of the Ladies' Bikur Cholim Association, the Auxiliary Groups provided for the support and care of the patients of the Jewish Memorial Hospital. They functioned as public relation emissaries and as volunteer cadres to support the daily operations of the Jewish Memorial Hospital. In the 1960s, membership in all the auxiliary groups had reached 12,000. These members included men and women, ranging from young boys and girls, to grandmothers and grandfathers. The men and women of the Auxiliaries organized many kinds of events such as the Celebrities Night fund raisers, Reward for Research Dinners, flea markets, bazaars, fashion shows, and book sales. Thousands of dollars were raised from these events to support the hospital's many programs. Moreover, Auxiliary members volunteered their time working in the hospital planning special holiday and birthday events for patients, washing and styling patients hair, and providing patients with musical entertainment.


148.5 linear feet (205 manuscript boxes, 19 oversize boxes)


The records provide material relating to the accreditation, fundraising, management, planning, policies, programs, and public relations of a hospital that continues to serve the Greater Boston area. The records includes correspondence of various Presidents, Board Members, and Executive Directors; Board and committee minutes; scrapbooks, photographs, videotape, and film created by the Public Relations department; records of various Auxiliary groups; correspondence, reports, surveys, and other documents relating to the Pediatric Rehabilitation Program; and artifacts such as plaques, portraits, and silverware.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Acquisition information is unknown.

Processing Information

Processed by Dominic P. Grandinetti, 2006

Jewish Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center (Boston, Mass.) Records, I-336
Processed by Dominic P. Grandinetti
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at American Ancestors Repository

99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States