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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Eight photos of ‘Public service organizations: healthcare’

August 17, 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 “Public service organizations: healthcare.” Public service organizations of all kinds comprise a large category of my father’s work in Brooklyn that I haven’t displayed yet. Many of the organizations that you’ll see this week focused on healthcare, including services for those with all manner of special needs. Some services were aimed specifically at children or the elderly. For the most part, these groups relied on extensive fundraising to support their activities.

My father worked for quite a few healthcare agencies, including the Red Cross, the Brooklyn Tuberculosis and Health Association, the United Hospital Fund, the Visiting Nurses Association and others. There were also a number of Jewish-sponsored efforts as well as non-health related services that I’ll come back to in future posts.

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Today’s photos:

These organizations were involved in several types of activities. Efforts had to be made to educate, engage the public and market services. But the main goal was to provide tangible care and support and that, added to everything else, required continuous fundraising. Today’s photos will offer a sample of those activities, and I’ll drill down on some specifics for the rest of the week.

The Dodgers sending a championship package, November 19, 1947

Do you remember these guys? Many will recognize the short man in the dark suit: Branch Rickey. Some will know the tallest: Ralph Branca (#13). But not many (including myself) know the other two; I couldn’t be sure, even referring to team photos from 1947.

This was a publicity shot to raise money for the TB Association’s major fundraiser, the sale of Christmas seals. The Dodgers are mailing a package addressed to “The Brooklyn Fans.” The package says it contains the 1948 World Series Championship — a promise for the following year. The famous (or infamous) “Wait ’til next year” Dodger slogan would become an annual prediction as the team lost the World Series to the Yankees in 1947, ’49, ’52 and ’53. The promise finally was kept in the 1955 World Series.

Brooklynites were traumatized by the team’s departure for Los Angeles in 1957 not just because they had finally won a championship, but because they really were a home team. Many lived in Brooklyn and they were consistently generous in supporting local events and causes — like this one.


X-ray line, January 30, 1947

These gentlemen are waiting for their chest X-ray, compliments of the Brooklyn TB and Health Association. If you think this doesn’t look like a typical medical clinic, you’re right. It’s been set up in the back of a dry-cleaning store — Rand’s at West 5th Street and Kings Highway. Local merchants sometimes did what they could to help bring TB services into local communities.


Help at home: Visiting Nurses Association, c. 1935

The Visiting Nurses Association is justifiably proud of its more than 100-year history of providing in-home care to millions of people throughout the United States. I’d bet many of you reading this have experienced care provided by a visiting nurse for yourself or for family members; I know I have. Here, a nurse provides rehab help for a woman’s knee, with the kitchen table providing the perfect platform.


Don’t try this at home: First aid technique demonstration, undated

Among the many functions performed by the Red Cross, providing information, demonstrations and instruction in how to perform many first aid and other personal care functions was one that reached many of the general public. Here a man is demonstrating what was then a recommended life-saving procedure, especially for drowning victims. CPR procedures have improved on this older method, but many lives have been saved because the Red Cross educated so many people in emergency techniques.


Graduation, undated

Moving beyond first aid, the Red Cross has long provided training for people to become skilled volunteers or health care professionals. Though I don’t have any information about this event, it looks like some form of nursing skills graduation.


Custom-made, c. 1941

The Red Cross organized volunteers to provide — or, as in this case, create — goods needed in places experiencing severe shortages. Women here are sewing clothing to be sent to Eastern Europe, where the war had created shortages of clothing, especially for growing children. The Red Cross actively partnered with the Commission for Polish Relief and Russian War Relief organizations.


Every little bit helps: Fundraising on a small scale, December 16, 1946

The Christmas Seal campaign provided the bulk of the income that the Brooklyn TB and Health Association counted on. Most of the effort involved selling the seals through post offices and encouraging supporters to show their support and spread the word by putting seals on all cards and gifts sent for the holidays. But they also didn’t miss the opportunity, during the holiday season , to collect nickels and dimes from customers as they left service windows with change in hand.


Busy, busy, busy: Phone bank, undated

I don’t know exactly what they’re busy doing, but it’s clear that Red Cross volunteers and (apparently) nurses never ran out of things to do. Here a phone bank is in action — raising money? Gathering information? Providing health information or advice? Could be almost anything, but it’s surely well-organized and taken seriously.

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 16: Photos of ‘Public service organizations: healthcare’

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