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

August 27, 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:

Today’s photos don’t need much introduction. The Flatbush Boys Club (FBC) has shown up in our displays before — three times, in fact. The first, during our second week of “Kaufman’s Brooklyn,” on May 13, showed a boy preparing a picket sign that said “Keep Our Club Open.” The second, on May 28, showed a boy working on a carving in the wood shop. The third, June 23, showed two boys in a wrestling match in the gym.

Obviously, the Boys Club provided a variety of activities and had good facilities. Today’s photos will show more of that. It also had the loyalty of its members, who literally took to the streets to publicize the need for community support. The appeal worked and support came through, despite the Depression. A newspaper story early in the 30s, highlighting the value of the FBC to the community, reported that 6,000 boys had “spent their leisure hours in supervised recreation” the previous year, rather than being unoccupied on the streets. The number was surely even higher when these pictures were taken.

I try to point out the adult support that these public organizations count on. This time you’ll see men volunteering their time and skill leading boys in a couple of the many activities that required such leadership. But, in addition, the last picture shows two women, one the president of the association’s board and the other the organizer of the evening’s fundraising dinner for the FBC. As always, it took dedicated adults to supply both money and leadership.

Synchronized swimming: Valuable learning, August 10, 1936

These kids were lucky to have actual swimming instruction in the St. George pool. Volunteer Sol Pollack shows them the way.


No prior experience necessary: Washboard band, undated

Maybe not preparation for the Philharmonic, but it looks like fun with some of their dads looking on.


Something for everyone: Undated photos show singing, machine shop and a little history


The doctor is in: The boys get health checks, June 8, 1939

The Club provided more than recreation and even more than instruction. Medical check-ups were a luxury to many, but the FBC provided periodic medical exams, here from Dr. Raymond Kaplow.


A worthy appeal: The boys take action, undated

Along with all the other things they learned, the boys were also taught how to speak up and stand up for themselves. It’s no wonder they were willing to put in the preparation and the public effort to get their Club the support it needed.


Belles of the ball: The most basic need, November 30, 1935

Without money, as the boys’ protest showed, all the rest was in jeopardy. As always, it took the efforts of generous patrons to make it happen. Though they may enjoy the fun now that the party is starting, these ladies, from the Junior Ladies Auxiliary of the Flatbush Boys Club, were the hard-working chief organizers of a ball for the benefit of the Club.

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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