Lizzie Black Kander Papers, 1875-1960


Lizzie Black was born in Milwaukee in 1858, the daughter of John and Mary Black, who were Jewish pioneer farmers from near Green Bay. She was educated in the Milwaukee public schools and in 1878 graduated from East Side High as valedictorian. In 1881 she married Simon Kander, a real estate and insurance salesman, who later served in the 1907 Assembly of the Wisconsin State Legislature.

Lizzie Black Kander was one of the first women in Milwaukee to undertake social work activities with the Russian Jewish immigrants who had been arriving in the city since the 1880s; in fact, she became known as the Jane Addams of Milwaukee. She first established the Milwaukee Jewish Mission in 1896 in borrowed quarters in Temple B'ne Jeshurun and Temple Emanu-El. Her organization changed its name and location several times before moving circa 1951 to its present Prospect Avenue location where it became known as the Jewish Community Center of Milwaukee.

One of the first activities that Kander started at the Mission was cooking classes. The demand for recipes resulted in the publication in 1901 of a 200 page pamphlet, The Way to a Man's Heart. This pamphlet evolved into the popular Settlement Cook Book, the profits from which helped fund her various settlement houses and center buildings.

She was also involved in Milwaukee community activities. From 1907-circa 1927 she was a member of the city's School Board. She was also a founder of the Girls' Trade and Technical High School and the Milwaukee nursery school system.

In 1938 Kander was the first person chosen for the Milwaukee Jewish Center Honor Lecture, a lecture series that honored a prominent member of the Jewish Community. At the 1939 New York World's Fair she was designated one of Wisconsin's outstanding women. She died in 1940, and in 1948 Kander Auditorium at the Girls' Trade and Technical High School was named in her honor.