Fannie Emanuel

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Dr. Fannie Emanuel c. 1907
Dr. Fannie Emanuel (1915)
Dedication plaque in the lobby of the Chicago Housing Authority's Fannie Emanuel Apartments, 3916 West Washington Street, Chicago

Dr. Fannie Hagen Emanuel (July 31, 1871 – March 31, 1934[1]) was an American medical doctor and civic leader active in Chicago over the early decades of the twentieth century. In 1908 she founded the Emanuel Settlement House in Chicago.


Fannie Hagan was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she graduated with high marks from Old Gains High School. She later moved to Chicago, Illinois, and married, on February 28, 1888, at Bethel Church, William Emanuel,[2] proprietor of the Professor William Emanuel Scientific Chiropody Company. Her husband was born in Macon, Georgia, on December 1, 1862, and had relocated to Chicago from New York in 1887.[3] After they married, Emanuel assisted her husband by serving as the firm's treasurer. The Emanuel chiropody clinic remained opened in the Chicago Loop for over thirty-five years.[4]

In 1908 Emanuel attended classes in social sciences at the Graham Taylor School of Civics and Philanthropy, Chicago. Later that year she established the Emanuel House, a settlement house on Armour Avenue in Chicago. In her mission statement Emanuel's stated goal was "to inspire higher ideals of manhood and womanhood, to purify the social condition, and to encourage thrift and neighborhood pride, and good citizenship." Emanuel House maintained a kindergarten and offered cooking and sewing classes, boys' and girls' club, free dental clinic, employment bureau and domestic science class for adults. Though located in a predominantly black neighborhood known as the Black Belt, her settlement house was available to all races.[5] The Emanuel Settlement House closed in 1912.[6]

Emanuel attended the Jenner Medical College of Medicine and, beginning in 1911, the Chicago Hospital College of Medicine (now Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University) where she graduated with her medical degree in 1915, not long after becoming a grandmother.[7] She eventually set up her private practice with offices in the Roosevelt State Bank Building at Grand Boulevard and 35th Street, Chicago.[8]

Emanuel served on the board of directors of the Phyllis Wheatley Club, an organization tasked with helping improve the lot of African-American women[9] and was active with such organizations as the YWCA, Ida B. Wells Women's Club, Women’ Aid of Old Folks Home, Elizabeth Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, Warden Temple, Order of Elks, Court of Calanthe and the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.[4][10]

The Emanuels had four children, a daughter Juanita, and sons William, Floyd and McKinley. Into the 1920s the family maintained a summer residence in Idlewild, Michigan.[4][11]

The Chicago Housing Authority's Fannie Emanuel Apartments, a 20-story affordable senior apartment complex in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood, are named in Dr. Emanuel's honor.[12]


  1. ^ Beckford, Geraldine Rhoades, Biographical Dictionary of American Physicians of African Ancestry, 1800-1920, 2011, p. 103
  2. ^ Chicago, Ill. Western Appeal (Saint Paul, Minnesota), March 03, 1888, p. 4
  3. ^ Buck, Daniel Dana, The Progression of the Race in the United States and Canada, 1907, p. 15 accessed 5.13.13
  4. ^ a b c Simms, James N. Simms' Blue Book and National Negro Business and Professional Directory, 1923, p. 107
  5. ^ Woods, Robert Archey - Kennedy, Albert Joseph, editors, Handbook of Settlements, 1911, p. 47 accessed 5.11.13
  6. ^ Davis, Elizabeth Lindsay, “The Story of the Illinois Federation of Colored Women's Clubs 1900-1922 accessed 5.13.13
  7. ^ Dr. Fannie Emanuel. The Broad Ax (Chicago, Illinois), May 29, 1915, p. 4
  8. ^ Chips. The Broad Ax (Chicago, Illinois), September 03, 1921, p. 3
  9. ^ Women's Advocacy Collection accessed 5.11.13
  10. ^ See L. Mara Dodge, “African-American Women and the Social Reform Tradition: The Phyllis Wheatley Women’s Clubs and Homes,” in Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (NY: Garland Publishing, 2001), pp. 566-68. And L. Mara Dodge "Dr. Fannie Emanuel: African-American Clubwoman, Activist, and Doctor,” in Women Building Chicago, 1790-1990 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001): 248-49.
  11. ^ Notes from Idlewild, Michigan. The Broad Ax (Chicago, Illinois), July 15, 1922, p. 3
  12. ^ "West Side Rehab Project Approved for 181 Affordable Senior Apartments". The City of Chicago. The City of Chicago. October 14, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2017. Originally Park View Apartments, the building was constructed in 1963 before being closed due to mechanical system problems. Its current name honors Dr. Fannie Emanuel, an African-American medical doctor and civic leader who founded the Emanuel Settlement House in Chicago in 1908.