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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Two photos of ‘Small people in pairs’

June 25, 2020 Phil Kaufman
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My father, Irving Kaufman (1910 – 1982), was a professional photographer who started in Brooklyn in the mid 1930s working for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He captured thousands of images of Brooklyn through the 1950s. I have recently digitized a great many of them. My father’s profile can be found here.

This week’s theme:

Last week, I displayed “People in pairs.” In many cases, there was a lot to say about the people featured — their careers, their relationships to each other, and details about their activities or the settings they were in. This week’s theme, “Small people in pairs,” sounds similar, but it’s really very different. In most cases, there’s not much to say about the photos’ subjects — maybe a bit of background, where they are, what they’re doing. But it’s mostly just interesting to look at and reflect a little on what kids of various ages are like.

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I’ve tried to provide a variety of settings and circumstances, like I did with the adults last week. Though it wasn’t a major area of my father’s work, a number of his clients brought him into contact with young people — certainly enough to generate hundreds of interesting images of kids of all ages, who are all adorable.

Today’s photos:

Today’s two photos are of the smallest “small people” of the week. Babies are often adorable, their pictures frequently irresistible. While my father’s work brought him to photograph children at least once in a while, it hardly ever included babies.

But here are two. They’re together, though I can’t tell why. They seem about six to eight months old. They could be twins, though they don’t look identical. There are only four pictures from this scene, and the envelope was labeled “United Hospital Fund 3/15/38.”

My father did work for the United Hospital Fund in Brooklyn, mostly covering fundraising events and organizational meetings. This could be one of his rare visits to a hospital supported by the Fund, and one of the even rarer visits to a pediatric ward. Only the envelope information and the actual images are definitive; all else is speculation.

Why are we alone? March 15, 1938

We all hate to see babies cry, even though they might look cute doing it. There’s no way to know why they’re crying here. I attributed it to their being alone because it struck me that there was no safety check on that table and no adult around.


I feel much better now, March 15, 1938

I was hesitant to display two crying babies, but I knew I would follow by showing them at ease. The nurse has reappeared, leaning in with a smile and probably some soothing words. All’s well that ends well. (Unless I have the pictures in the wrong order.)

An index of Kaufman’s Brooklyn posts may be found here.

Irving Kaufman’s profile may be found here.

I invite you to submit comments, memories, images of Brooklyn, and especially any additional background information you can supply about the photos posted here to [email protected]. I’d also be glad to supply information about buying prints of any of the images seen here. Many of my father’s images are also available for viewing and purchase at All prints purchased will be the product of professional scanning and editing.

Weekly collection 8: Photos of ‘Small people in pairs’

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