Jewish People's Institute Girls
Jewish People's Institute Girls, a leading women’s amateur basketball team in Chicago during the 1920s and early 1930s. The team, founded in 1916, pioneered women's amateur basketball in Chicago playing under men's rules and competed until 1932.
The team had its origin in the efforts of Rose Rodkin of the Chicago Hebrew Institute (CHI) (changed to Jewish People's Institute (JPI) in 1922). One day in October of 1916, Rodkin after seeing a men's game at the Hull House between a Hull House five and a Hebrew Institute five, was fired up to form a team for women playing under men's rules. With the assistance of Louis Berger, she soon formed the first such women's amateur team in the city and recruited Hull House, Christ Church, Sinai Social Center, and the Illinois Athletic Club (the future Brownies) to organize competing teams in the winter of 1916-17. In the first contest of amateur women’s team in Chicago, the Chicago Hebrew Institute Girls defeated the Hull House girls 25 to 15.
In the 1918-19 season, the Hebrew Institute staged the first women’s tournament in the city at the CHI women's gym, and the following year took second in the Central AAU women's title game, designated as being for the "city championship."
In 1921, the Chicago Hebrew Institute (CHI) women won the Central AAU title over Steger A.C. Club of Steger, Illinois, 10-2, and took the Amateur Athletic Federation (AAF) title as well. CHI took second in the Central AAU tournament to the Brownies in the spring of 1922. In late 1922, with the change in name of their sponsoring institution, the team was renamed the Jewish People's Institute Girls. The JPI Girls next achievement was in 1924, when they took second to the Uptown Brownies in the Central AAU league standings that year, and took third in the Central AAU tournament. In 1925, the JPI Girls finished fourth, but in 1926 the team took second in the title game, losing to the Tri-Chi Girls, 36 to 13. In 1927, the JPI finished with a respectable third place trophy.
The JPI team was one of the few white amateur teams to play African-American teams, competing for example against the Roamer Girls in 1926 and against the Olivet Baptist Church Cosmopolitans in 1929. They were upset by the Cosmopolitans for the first time, when they met a team that included star players Virginia Willis and the great tennis sensasion Ora Mae Washington.
The team was highly successful in the 1928-29 season having won 27 games, some out of town, as when it down to St. Louis to beat the Young Women's Hebrew Association team, 32-30.
By 1931, the team's players included Gertrude Edelcup, Dot Boyce, Mildred Christensen, Rose Olbur, Henrietta Schoenfield, Fannie Schoenfeld, and top players Anne Goldstein and Captain Rae Levine. The last women's tournament that the Jewish People's Institute Girls participated in was the the Cental AAU meet in the spring of 1932, where they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the May & Malone Girls, who went on to win the championship that year.
With the apparent termination of the JPI Girls program, three of their top players--Anne Goldstein, Rose Olbur, and Rae Levine--found a new home with a newly formed team in the fall of 1932, the Spencer Coals. The Spencer Coals was coached by Mark Singer, who with every women's team he coached in the 1930s turned them into champions.