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

August 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:

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).

Today’s photos:

Today’s organization, the Brooklyn Home for Children (BHC), parallels yesterday’s Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum (BHOA) quite remarkably.

Both were established in the mid-19th century in response to Brooklyn’s growing poverty rate. Both were organized by prosperous, philanthropic religious groups. Both opened homes to care for children, and soon had to expand to meet a rapidly growing need. And both evolved through the decades until foster care replaced the need for a large live-in facility, leading to a major organizational change around 1940.

The BHC started as the Brooklyn Industrial School Association and Home for Destitute Children. That name tells us that the school taught trades — sewing and domestic skills for girls, carpentry and other manual trades for boys — and that it enrolled poor young people, not babies or toddlers, and (mostly) not actual orphans.

The Home’s Board of Directors included many of Brooklyn’s wealthiest men. As a result, they were able to provide excellent training and living facilities in what was then Prospect Heights, just north of present-day Grand Army Plaza. Actual management of the operation was in the hands of dedicated, wealthy women, known as the “lady managers.”

By the 1920s, foster care began to alter the mission of the BHC just like it had the BHOA. By the late 1930s, the organization began to arrange a move to a new, smaller facility, modern both in construction and concept. Children lived in groups in home-like cottages, with “house parents.”  Everyone had chores, but education was now received in public schools, with other children.

This transition was not only a move to mid-20th century life from remnants of the 19th; it was also a move from Brooklyn to Forest Hills, Queens. The organization is still there and has continued to update itself, now Forestdale, Inc., “providing high quality and innovative services to heal families in crisis.” On March 15, 1942, about six months after the children moved into their new homes, my father took these pictures to document the much-altered living space and activities of the erstwhile Brooklyn Home for Children.

New life and new borough: Children on display in new home, March 15, 1942


Benefactors still around: Inspecting and investing, March 15, 1942

The top photo shows some of the Home’s financial supporters checking out the modern facilities that they, no doubt, had helped pay for. The bottom photo shows three more benefactors (not looking quite as modern as the facility they’ve endowed) probably accepting a check that is destined to pay for the updated establishment.

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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