Brooklyn Boro

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

September 3, 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 photos display activities of service organizations that focused on specific constituencies and their unique needs. The organizations were privately funded and run, with minimal government support.

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Again, I’m highlighting four organizations. The first is the Industrial Home for the Blind (IHB), an independent (later incorporated) organization that provided a full range of services to people who were blind or deaf-blind.

Working with the IHB, for a time in the mid- and late 1930s, was the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor (AICP). The AICP supported the work of other charitable organizations in a variety of ways. Their work with the Home for the Blind in this period included help selling products and adding to the products available in special fundraising activities.

The joint efforts of these two groups were quite extensive. I’ll be featuring them for the first three days this week. On Thursday and Friday I’ll add a few images from two other groups: the Menorah Home for the Aged and the Brooklyn Hebrew Society of the Deaf. Rather than a different organization each day, I’ll show a different topic each day: products, skills, sales, activities and support.

Today’s photos:

The focus today is on activities — the activities provided to enrich the lives of specific groups. Two Jewish organizations that provided services to a distinct population were the Hebrew Association for the Deaf and the Menorah Home for the Aged.  Both merged and morphed with other institutions, beginning in the 1940s, and continue their work today in much-altered form.

The activities shown here, in both institutions, are largely opportunities for increased social contact. In today’s world (even before COVID), we are aware of how harmful social isolation can be to psychological and physical health. The supporters and workers providing services to various potentially marginalized populations 80 years ago were probably just as aware, though with less publicity and rigorous study. At any rate, we see here people brought together for an event or task that enabled them to connect with others, with all kinds of benefits as a result.

Occupational therapy as social therapy: Group activity, 1942

This scene was labeled “Occupational Therapy.” Certainly OT — learning how to handle everyday activities that might present some physical challenges — is valuable to an aging population. But doing it in groups makes it just as valuable socially as physically.


Seder: A family gathering, 1942

What could be more valuable for the psyche and spirit than sharing a traditional and meaningful family event, even if the family is virtual?


Seder: An extended family gathering, 1942

And it’s even more valuable when the generous people who keep that virtual family together are there as well.


I hear you loud and clear: It’s nice to get together, undated

Whether in a group discussion, checkers or ping-pong, it’s nice to be busy and together.

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 18: Photos of ‘Public service organizations: special focus’

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