Poverty & Health

Working-Class Jews

The most common occupations of patients at the JCRS between 1904-1923 were tailors, dressmakers, clerks, domestic workers, and peddlers. Tailors and dressmakers often worked in sweatshops, where working environments were extremely crowded and unsanitary. A combination of factors including bacterial infection, poverty and poor work conditions led to an increased risk of contracting tuberculosis. Although Jews suffered lower rates of infection compared with other groups, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic stereotypes led to the perception of tuberculosis as a “Jewish disease"[1].

[1] Jeanne Abrams, Dr. Charles David Spivak (2009)

Top Left: Sweatshop in Ludlow Street Tenement, New York (Photo: Jacob A. Riis)
Bottom Left:  Excerpt from Chester J. Teller’s 1916 Report on the Problem of Combined Poverty and Tuberculosis Among Jews in Denver, Colorado (Source: Beck Archives, University of Denver)

Denver’s Globeville Neighborhood

The connection between low socioeconomic status and poor health persists in Denver today. In the mixed industrial/residential neighborhood of Globeville, one of two majority-Hispanic neighborhoods in Denver, approximately 25% of residents live in poverty. An alarmingly high percentage of Globeville youth suffer from lead exposure, and air pollution and asthma rates are higher than the state average [2]. Environmental racism is a term that describes how marginal groups are disproportionately affected by environmental risks.

[2] Michael Booth, “Making Noise in Globeville and Elyria-Swansea,” The Colorado Trust (September 13, 2018, September 13).

Top Right:  Mixed industrial-residential neighborhood (Photo: Dominik Dancs on Unsplash)
Bottom Right:  Map of Globeville Neighborhood in Denver


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