• Creator Names Selfhelp Home for the Aged.
  • Title Selfhelp Home (Chicago, Ill.) papers [manuscript], 1936-2008, bulk 1968-1980s.
  • Physical description
    • 1 linear foot (2 boxes)
    • 19 sound recordings.
  • Access and usage restrictions In order to consult sound recordings, it is necessary to use a copy, not the original (and to have a copy made if one is not available).
  • Collection summary Annual reports, biographies, book reviews, correspondence, financial records, licenses, newsletters, and other materials related to the Selfhelp Home in Chicago, also known as the Self-Help Home, and the life of Dorothy Becker, its long-time advocate; as well as Ursula Levy's book about her: "The Spirit Builder : the life and times of Dorothy Becker, a breakthrough view of aging." Includes 20 sound recordings of interviews conducted by Ursula Levy with Dorothy Becker and Gerda Karfunkel to assist in writing Levy's book. The collection relates to the history of the Chicago organization, which began in 1938 when volunteers provided services for Jewish immigrants who had escaped Nazi Germany. It included a youth group and sponsored plays. In 1951 the first home operated by the organization opened at 4941 South Drexel Avenue in the Kenwood community of Chicago. It closed in the 1970s. In 1963, the organization established its home at 908 West Argyle Street and eventually included a nearby building at 930 West Argyle (1986). Gradually the organization became a residence for older people. Collection includes annual reports from Self-Help Homes in New York and in Newark, N.J.
  • Biographical or Historical Note The Selfhelp organizations were established first in New York City to provide orientation and Americanization services and financial assistance to immigrants escaping Nazi Germany. Later homes were established in Chicago and in Newark, N.J. Dr. William Becker and his wife Dorothy were recent immigrants in 1938 who devoted many years to the Chicago organization. Dr. Becker served as president from 1947 until his death in 1963, and then Dorothy Becker became president. She was well-known for her emphasis on activities that celebrated life.
  • Acquisition information Gift of Marian Shaffer, the Beckers' daughter (2009.0077.1).
  • Terms Governing Use and Reproduction The donor deeded all rights owned by the donor to this material, including copyright, to the Chicago Historical Society.
  • Location of Other Archival Materials Note Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include the Self-Help Home (Chicago, Ill.) photograph collection (2009.0077), and publications cataloged separately.
  • Names
    • Selfhelp Home for the Aged Archives.
    • Selfhelp of Chicago Archives.
    • Becker, William F., 1897?-1963.
    • Becker, Dorothy, 1910-1999.
    • Becker, Dorothy, 1910-1999 Interviews.
    • Karfunkel, Gerda.
    • Karfunkel, Gerda Interviews.
    • Levy, Ursula. Spirit Builder.
    • 4941 South Drexel Boulevard (Chicago, Ill.)
    • 908 West Argyle Street (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Becker, Dorothy, 1910-1999.
    • Karfunkel, Gerda.
    • Levy, Ursula.
    • Selfhelp of Chicago.
  • Subjects
    • Charities Illinois Chicago 20th century.
    • Immigrants Illinois Chicago 20th century.
    • Jewish refugees Illinois Chicago Charities 20th century.
    • Jews, German Illinois Chicago 20th century.
    • Jews Illinois Chicago Charities 20th century
    • Old age homes Illinois Chicago 20th century.
    • Jewish women Illinois Chicago 20th century Biography.
  • Geographic coverage
    • Kenwood (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Chicago (Ill.) Social conditions 20th century.
    • Uptown (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Genre
    • Annual reports. aat
    • Audiocassettes. aat
    • Biographies. aat
    • Correspondence. aat
    • Licenses. aat
    • Newsletters. aat
    • Plays. aat
  • Geographic name United States Illinois Cook County Chicago.