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

August 24, 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: children.” It’s similar to last week’s focus, “Public service organizations: healthcare.” These photos of children often involve healthcare services, but also include general child welfare programs. Also, as was the case last week, these organizations were privately funded and organized, with minimal government support.

More by coincidence than design, this week also highlights four organizations; my father happened to do a lot of work for these four. Two were specifically Jewish — partly, I’m sure, because my father was familiar with them and may have had connections to them, but also because of the large and active Jewish community in Brooklyn at the time. The four organizations are the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphanage Asylum (BHOA), the Brooklyn Home for Children (BHC), the Flatbush Boys Club (FBC) and the Jewish Hospital and Sanitarium for Chronic Diseases (JHCD).

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Today’s photos:

This week I will display photos from a single organization each day. The BHOA will be shown today and also on Thursday, simply because I have a great many photos from there — and many of them happen to be of adorable kids. The other three organizations will be featured on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

The Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum was founded in 1878 by a group of Jewish philanthropists (led, coincidentally, by a man named Sigismund Kaufman — no relation, as far as I know). They opened in 1879 with 10 children in a building at 384 McDonough St. The next decades saw enormous Jewish immigration and the home expanded dramatically. By 1909 it housed over 600 children in a large full-block, multi-story facility in Crown Heights.

From the beginning, not all children were orphans. Many had living parents who were too poor to provide adequate care. Also, by the 1920s, BHOA worked to provide foster care for as many children as possible. By the time these pictures were taken, more than two-thirds of the children referred to BHOA had been placed with foster families. In fact, some of the pictures below were taken for the purpose of distribution to potential foster parents. The fostering success grew to the point that in 1940 BHOA closed the large residential facility and changed its identity from “Orphan Asylum” to “Service Bureau.” In 1960, together with a number of other Jewish social service groups, it merged into Jewish Family Services.

Below are seven photos, all taken between 1936 and 1940, of the youngest children in residence. I always like to give credit, when I can, to the adults who made these socially valuable organizations possible. The final picture is of the executive director of BHOA at the time, whose name I don’t know. I assume she was a paid employee, not a volunteer, but I also assume she wasn’t paid very much and worked very hard.

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 17: Photos of ‘Public service organizations: children’

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