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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Six photos of ‘Schools’

July 22, 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:

This week’s theme is called simply “Schools.” Schools have been in our news quite a bit lately and will surely continue to be for the months ahead. Rather than reminding us all of the dilemma about how to open schools this year, I’ll provide an escape to scenes of Brooklyn schools 80 years ago. Not only that, the escape will take you away from public schools altogether for a look at the different (for most of us) world of private schools.

As I mentioned about a month ago, my father did a lot of work for the Packer Collegiate Institute, which was directly across Joralemon Street from the Irving Kaufman studio. (To see more information on this, look back at the June 18 post. The school is still there; the studio and its building are long gone.) He did hundreds of photos for them, from the mid ’30s to the late ’40s. He also worked, less extensively, for a few other private schools, among them the Walt Whitman School, Hawthorne Academy, Horace Mann and the Jewish Community School, all of which will be represented in this week’s display.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Today’s photos:

Today’s photos show school scenes illustrating school activities, from among art, music, science, shop (“industrial arts”), sports, theater and formal events.

Mighty mouse, June 11, 1947


Mighty mouse, June 11, 1947

Monday’s photos included one from the Walt Whitman School showing the school’s homemade cosmetic offerings (see recipe in the background of today’s scene). The school’s science curriculum apparently also included animal behavior. The first photo shows a little white mouse, barely noticeable at first glance, on its way up an incline. The second shot shows that it reached the goal, which required some vertical climbing as well, much to the delight of the young experimenters.


Say “cheese”, Jewish Community School, February 15, 1944

These smiles are definitely more than you get from saying “cheese.” This shot doesn’t connect to any of the specific activities I’ve highlighted, but I couldn’t resist these happy faces. My father must have done or said something funny to get the spontaneous response.


Young women in procession, Packer, spring 1943


Young women together, Packer, spring 1943

My father took many photos at “Class Day” at Packer Collegiate Institute. I don’t have a precise description of Class Day, but it certainly involved a well-choreographed and rehearsed procession of the older girls – I think that means all the high-schoolers, except the seniors who would be graduating within days – and some ceremonial after-events, with parents and guests in attendance. Two pictures from the 1943 occasion show the procession and a full group shot.


A tree grows in Brooklyn, Packer, April 1941

Beautifying and maintaining the grounds around their school was part of the girls’ education.

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 12: Photos of ‘Schools’

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