Brooklyn Boro

Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Eight photos from the ‘Variety’ collection

September 29, 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:

I’ve been displaying a lot of pictures each week for the past couple of months. This week will be no exception. But many weeks have not had much variety. Last week is certainly the best example of that: over 40 portraits of women, mostly from the same time period and with a similar look. (I hope you found interesting variety in the subtleties of their faces, bearings, expressions; that was my intent.)

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This week I will add variety to the quantity. Rather than a single theme for the week, I have a number of different categories, usually just one per day, but sometimes even some variation within a day. I hope the variety will add to the spice of life for you this week.

Today’s photos:

Let’s call today’s display “Peace and Quiet.” The “peace” refers to a couple of groups working for literal peace: peace on earth. The “quiet” refers to several more scenes of quiet (also peaceful, in the metaphorical sense) streets. I’ve always loved my father’s images of streets that are calm and virtually empty. I showed 14 of them back in our first post in April. Here are a few more.

Jane Addams Square: Women’s Int’l League for Peace and Freedom, 9/6/60

Jane Addams was a social activist in the late 19th and early 20th century. She was first known for her work in the settlement house movement in Chicago. She was also active in the women’s suffrage movement and was a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union.

With all that, she dedicated great energy and time to the international women’s movement for peace, starting before the turn of the century. In 1919 she became the first president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Her work earned her the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize. She was the first American woman to receive it. Here we see the 1960 leaders of the League who had arranged to briefly re-name Times Square in her honor.


Pre-war peace group: Women work for peace, 1937

In the late 1930s, as war could be seen approaching in Europe, a number of Americans, dissatisfied and disillusioned from World War I, worked to prevent the United States from being drawn into another war. These efforts diminished as the European situation became clearer and FDR had general (not complete) support in providing aid to Britain in 1940 and ’41. Of course, the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, removed any serious reluctance to join the fight.

But in the mid- and late ’30s, many idealistic and patriotic groups sincerely felt that war could and should be resisted. This group from the National Council of Jewish Women combined with representatives from other religious groups and peace activists to sponsor a “Forum for Peace in World Affairs.” It was held on February 23, 1937 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and included lectures, discussions and music in both a morning and an afternoon session.


Often bustling but quiet here: Surf Avenue & W. 37 Street, Coney Island, undated

The entrance to Sea Gate, longtime beach retreat for the rich and famous.


Landmark and crossroads: Grand Army Plaza, undated

This spot may never have been this empty again since whenever my father caught it like this.


Calm scenes, unidentified, undated

I have only black and white evidence that these quiet scenes once existed, but I have no information about exactly where they are or when these were taken. Just look, take a deep breath, and enjoy the peace and quiet.

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 collections 22 and 23: Photos from the ‘Variety’ collection

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