Esther Loeb Kohn helped bridge the gap between Chicago’s volunteer and professional social workers and spent thirty years running the Hull House settlement whenever founder Jane Addams was away on her frequent travels. Kohn left school at fifteen to help raise her younger siblings, but after marrying medical student Alfred D. Kohn in 1894 she studied at the University of Chicago and took voice-training classes in Munich, Paris, and Vienna. After her husband’s sudden death in 1909, she became a Hull House resident and quickly rose through the ranks of volunteers, becoming an administrator and organizing summer camp and children’s activities. Meanwhile, she served as director, vice president, and president of the Social Service Bureau of Jewish Charities from 1921–1941 and helped organize the Jewish Vocational and Employment Service’s Work Shop for Handicapped Persons. She advocated for a variety of pacifist and anti-Nazi groups through the 1930s and 1940s. In 1911, she became a board member of the Immigrants Protective League, where she served for fifty years. After Jane Addams’s death in 1935, committee members argued over how to manage Hull House, and Kohn left in 1941. She continued her charitable work throughout her life.
More on Esther Loeb Kohn
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Esther Loeb Kohn ." (Viewed on June 26, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/kohn-esther>.