Irene Kaufmann Settlement Photographs

What's online?

The Irene Kaufmann Settlement online collection contains images from 1916 to 1944 illustrating the activities, programs, and physical environment of the settlement.

Images were selected that represent the range of photographs in the collection.

What's in the entire collection?

The collection, held by the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center, comprises over 400 images taken between about 1916 and 1946, which visually document the range of services, and programs offered by the settlement house to the immigrant population in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. Also included are photographs of staff, the building, the neighborhoods in the Hill, and the IKS-run Emma Farm camp and its campers.

About the Irene Kaufmann Settlement Collection

The Irene Kaufmann Settlement (IKS) began as the Columbian Council School (1893-1909) of the Council of Jewish Women through which volunteers offered settlement services to newly arrived immigrants. The Columbian Council School was funded by private philanthropy. Until 1890, there were about 4,000 Jews in Pittsburgh; then the Great Migration began. Between 1890 and 1910, over 25,000 Jews arrived in Pittsburgh from Eastern Europe and settled in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, overwhelming the efforts of the volunteer-based Columbian Council School.

Recognizing the increasing need for larger facilities and a professional staff, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kaufmann endowed the Irene Kaufmann Settlement in memory of their daughter, to be located in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, an area in which immigrants lived on arrival in the city. In 1911, the IKS was dedicated.

The importance of the IKS in the lives of the immigrants, many of whom were not Jewish, cannot be overstated. The IKS offered nursing services, Better Baby clinics, prenatal care, free milk for school-age children, and free kindergartens. The IKS was responsible for starting the Pittsburgh Visiting Nurse Service. The work done by the IKS during the flu pandemic and through medical inspection of city schools was recognized to benefit the entire community. Classes were offered to aid in Americanization and to teach music, art, and drama.

As the process of acculturation of immigrant Jews and their children continued and with the economic boom following WWII, an eastern movement out of the Hill District led to a new Jewish population center in Squirrel Hill and the East End. In 1948, the IKS began to offer services to the Jewish community in those areas as the Irene Kaufmann Center (IKC). In The IKS building in the Hill was renamed and the administration was passed on to a non-Jewish organization. In 1960, the IKC merged with the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association (YM&WHA). The resulting Y-IKC was renamed the Jewish Community Center in 1974. Since then, the JCC has continued to expand its facilities and programs in the Squirrel Hill center and a satellite facility in the South Hills.

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