Kander, Lizzie Black (1858–1940)

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Kander, Lizzie Black (1858–1940)

American welfare worker and author . Born on May 28, 1858, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; died on July 24, 1940, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; second daughter and one of five children of John Black (the operator of a dry goods shop) and Mary (Pereles) Black; sister of Herman Black, publisher of the Chicago American (1913–33); attended the Fifth Ward School, Milwaukee; graduated from Milwaukee High School, 1878; married Simon Kander (a businessman and politician), on May 17, 1881 (died 1931): no children.

A lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lizzie Kander attended both grammar and high school in that city and, as a young girl, helped out in her father's dry goods store. A

graduate of Milwaukee High School, she was married in May 1881 to Simon Kander, a businessman and local politician. As a young matron, Lizzie Kander became involved in welfare work and remained committed to volunteerism for the rest of her life. (She rose at five o'clock, completing her housework early in the day so she could devote her afternoons to her welfare activities.) In her 20s, she was a member of the Ladies Relief Sewing Society of Milwaukee, a group that collected, repaired, and distributed discarded clothing to poor immigrant families. In 1896, after serving as president of the society for a year, she was selected to be president of the newly organized Milwaukee Jewish Mission, whose purpose was to provide vocational and domestic training to children age 5 to 14. In 1900, under Kander's leadership, the mission joined with another Jewish charitable group, the Sisterhood of Personal Service, to form the city's first social settlement house. With financial backing from the Federated Jewish Charities of Milwaukee, the Settlement, as it was called, expanded its educational program to include classes in English, American history, and music. It also served as a community center, providing a gymnasium and public bath, as well as boys' and girls' clubs, and even a club for mothers.

Kander was particularly interested in the Settlement's cooking classes, which she taught with several other women. To facilitate the distribution of recipes to class members, she prepared a collection of them in book form, The Settlement Cook Book: The Way to a Man's Heart (1901). Financed by selling advertising space, the cookbook became immensely popular outside the Settlement. Kander continued to collect recipes from friends and cooks around the world in preparation for a second edition which came out in 1903 and sold 1,500 copies, earning a modest profit. Kander continued to help edit subsequent editions and from 1914 took over sole responsibility for editing each new revision. Revised and expanded through the years, the book went through 40 editions and sold well over a million copies.

Under Kander's leadership, the Settlement out-grew its original facilities and in 1911 moved into new and larger quarters, the Abraham Lincoln House; Kander remained president until 1918. (In 1931, the Abraham Lincoln House became the Jewish Community Center.) Kander was also active in other community activities, particularly those involving education. She served as a member of the Board of School Directors of Milwaukee (1907–19), and was instrumental in the creation of a vocational high school for girls. Lizzie Kander died of coronary thrombosis at the age of 82, having survived her husband by nine years. She is buried in Milwaukee's Greenwood Cemetery.


James, Edward T., ed. Notable American Women, 1607–1950. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

McHenry, Robert, ed. Famous American Women. NY: Dover, 1983.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts