Orphan Trains: Taking the Rails to a New Life
In the mid-nineteenth century, more than 30,000 children lived alone in New York City, with no parents or other relatives to care for them. Orphanages didn’t have enough room to hold them all, and many lived on the streets, making their way by selling newspapers or apples. A local minister, Charles Loring Brace, took note of this problem and vowed to find ways to help. He founded the Children’s Aid Society, and part of their work included placing children with farm families in the Midwest and West. Over the years, into the twentieth century, thousands of children, including some babies, were loaded on railroad trains and sent west to be looked over and chosen by families looking for help working farms and filling out families. Some had great experiences, some had terrible ones.
Author Rebecca Langston-George follows the lives of seven children, including all the good and the bad that happened to such children. Many have photographs as well. Included is a follow-up section that tells what happened to the children later in life. This well-researched and beautifully written book will be a treasure for middle-school teachers and students and any who love history.