Helen Kaufman, Chicago, Illinois

Little is known about this syndicated source that has not yet been found in newspapers but in an interesting assortment of magazines, including several based in Chicago.  Her patterns are easily identifiable by the K prefix on the pattern numbers even though her name was not always included in the ad.  She designed pieced, appliqued, and embroidered quilt blocks, quilting designs, as well as embroidered and appliqued household items.

The two mailer envelopes in my collection are addressed by hand, and both have a rubber-stamped return address, each one different:
Miss H. Kaufman, 234 So. Franklin St., Chicago, Ill. [ca. 1928]
Miss H. Kaufman, 232 S. Market St., Chicago, Ill. [ca. late 1931]

The patterns in the first envelope (K1022-1026) are hand-made on sturdy brown paper (resembling light-weight wrapping paper) using a hand-held tool that produces a series of dots (similar to a tracing wheel) and traced through carbon paper.  The patterns in the second envelope (K1515-1519) are mimeographed on 8-1/2" by 14" sheets, as is K1044.

Helen Kaufman ad from Mother's Home-Life, September 1928, on the same page as one of her columns.

Helen Kaufman's syndicated feature is not listed in Editor & Publisher's Annual Syndicate Directory.  Dated clippings in my collection range from December 1924 through April 1933, and Barbara Brackman has found a column dated January 1, 1935, in the Oklahoma Farmer-Stockman.

Magazines known to be represented in my collection:
Bureau Farmer, A. F. B. F., 58 E. Washington St., Chicago (published in various state editions)
Everyday Life, 337 W. Madison St., Chicago
Farm and Ranch, location unknown [Oklahoma?]
Farmer's Wife, Webb Publishing Co., St. Paul, MN
Hoard's Dairyman, W. D. Hoard & Sons, Ft. Atkinson, WI
Holland's, The Magazine of the South, Dallas, TX
Home Circle Magazine, Home Publishing Co., Louisville, KY (relocated to Winona, MN, about 1932)
Household Guest, Jackson Blvd. and Des Plaines St., Chicago (later merged into Mother's-Home Life)
Mother's-Home Life, 315 S. Peoria St., Chicago (relocated to Winona, MN, about 1932)
Nebraska Farmer, McKelvie Publishing, Lincoln, NE
People's Popular Monthly, Carl C. Proper, Des Moines, IA
Plain and Fancy Needlework, Chicago, IL
Woman's World, Chicago, IL
"If you should send a money order or check, make it out direct to Helen Kaufman."  (Bureau Farmer)

One of Helen Kaufman's lesser known compilations clipped from Hoard's Dairyman, October 10, 1931.

 Helen Kaufman also edited the "Fancy Work" section of Home Arts and Entertainment, 1922 Supplement to Woman's Weekly (given with a one year subscription to Woman's Weekly), published by Magazine Circulation Co., Inc., Chicago, Illinois.  Patterns were ordered from the Woman's Weekly Fancywork Department.

An intriguing clue to Miss Kaufman's identity is in the 1911 issues of Woman's World magazine (Currier Publishing Company, Chicago; George H. Currier, President).  Herbert Kaufman was the Editorial Director, 1910-1913, and short stories, poetry, and political editorials written by him are pervasive during this period.  "Artistic Bow Making," an article by "Miss Kaufman," is in the April 1911 issue, and "A Set of Patchwork for the Bedroom" designed by Miss H. Kaufman is said to be in a 1916 issue of Plain and Fancy Needlework published by Woman's World.  The following information was gleaned from his obituaries in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, September 7, 1947, and Editor & Publisher, September 13, 1947, and from Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines, 1885-1905, page 367, note 61:

Tarrytown, NY, Sept. 6 (AP)--Herbert Kaufman, 69, editor, author, and poet who in recent years had operated the Herbert Kaufman Newspaper Syndicate, died today.  A native of Washington, DC, Kaufman did general newspaper work until 1899 in Washington and Baltimore.  He then engaged in various business enterprises, and from 1908 until 1915 was special adviser and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Record-Herald, and editor of Woman's World magazine, 1910-1913.  During the first World war he assisted Herbert Hoover in organizing the Federal Food Commission, and from 1918 to 1920 was special assistant to Secretary of Interior Franklin K. Lane.  Kaufman was editor and president of McClure's Magazine from 1919 to 1921 [or 1929].  Wife: Alta Wagstaff Kauffman [sic].

The 1910 Cook County, Illinois, census for Chicago identifies Helen H. Kaufman as Herbert Kaufman's first wife and the mother of his son, Herbert Jr.  Married for ten years, Helen was age 28, born in Maryland of German parents; her son was age 4, born in New York.  Diligent searches were unsuccessful in finding Helen Kaufman in succeeding Chicago censuses.  By 1920, as indicated in his obituary, Herbert Kaufman's wife was Alta Kaufman; they were living in Westchester County, New York, where they were found again in 1930.

My current hypothesis is that the Helen Kaufman who produced the quilt patterns was Herbert Kaufman's first wife who stayed in Chicago after they divorced and he moved to New York, but we need proof to substantiate her identity.  Their son may have remained with his father.

© Wilene Smith, September 13, 2010, all rights reserved

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