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

August 21, 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.

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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.

Today’s photos:

As yesterday’s appearance of Madame Schiaparelli illustrated, and as a few of the Dodgers showed on Monday, celebrity presence can attract extra attention. That, of course, adds to fundraising success. But a strong nonprofit organization also needs an endless roster of behind-the-scenes volunteers to take care of the nuts and bolts of the operation. Today’s photos, to close the week, show a couple of examples each of celebrities and volunteers.

Custom-made celebrity: “Miss Christmas Seals,” December 3, 1946

It’s a bit of a back-door approach to having celebrity support, but products and organizations have sold themselves this way forever. And it works, to a certain extent, I’m sure. Having an officially crowned spokesperson at a public event fundraiser adds a measure of extra interest and attracts more attention. Every little bit helps.


Actual celebrity: Danny Kaye at Borough Hall, November 19, 1946

Danny Kaye was not just any celebrity; he was, literally, “A Kid From Brooklyn” — the title of a movie he starred in and that showed throughout Brooklyn in the months before this photo was taken. That made this local boy from East New York a perfect celebrity for Brooklyn philanthropic work, which he welcomed. Kaye had had quite a bit of show business success by 1946, having done years of live theater comedy, a couple of movies and even a radio show.

He is shown here with Borough President John Cashmore (center right) at Borough Hall, displaying Christmas seals and coin collection containers, probably for a pre-Thanksgiving kick-off campaign.


A beehive of activity: Envelope stuffing, November 8, 1945

If you advertise Christmas seals through the mail, you have to be prepared to send them out — by the thousands. In this photo, a large and energetic roomful of volunteers is working to do just that. It’s also a real social event for these young people, with plenty of conversation and maybe a group meal. But they still seem to be getting plenty of work done, with boxes of Christmas seals and piles of envelopes in front of them.


Young leaders: Red Cross Junior Committee, Hotel St. George, November 9, 1936

This legion of young women provided enough energy, time and skill to plan and carry out hundreds of Red Cross activities in Brooklyn during the Depression years when the need was greatest. They probably also wrote plenty of checks to the organization, as adult volunteers frequently do. Without numerous and committed people like these, no ambitious charitable organization could hope to survive.


Veteran leader: Hotel St. George roof, November 9, 1936

How could I (and why should I?) resist another opportunity for a look at the world from the St. George roof? Here, some of the more senior volunteer leaders and nurses for the Red Cross enjoy refreshments, time to socialize, and no doubt a fair amount of shop talk and maybe check-writing as well. Oh, and the view isn’t bad either. As much as nonprofit organizations need energetic envelope-stuffers and competent Junior Committee members, they need seasoned leadership above all. The styles have changed; the gender and color uniformity are all but gone; but public service organizations today still count on young people’s energy, adult skills and experienced leadership.

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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