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The Orphan Train Movement was a supervised welfare program that transported children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes located largely in rural areas of the Midwest. The orphan trains operated between 1854 and 1929, relocating from about 200,000 children. The co-founders of the Orphan Train movement claimed that these children were orphaned, abandoned, abused, or homeless, but this was not always true. They were mostly the children of new immigrants and the children of the poor and destitute families living in these cities. Criticisms of the program include ineffective screening of caretakers, insufficient follow-ups on placements, and that many children were used as strictly slave farm labor.Three charitable institutions, Children's Village (founded 1851 by 24 philanthropists ), the Children's Aid Society (established 1853 by Charles Loring Brace) and later, New York Foundling Hospital, endeavored to help these children. The institutions were supported by wealthy donors and operated by professional staff. The three institutions developed a program that placed homeless, orphaned, and abandoned city children, who numbered an estimated 30,000 in New York City alone in the 1850s, in foster homes throughout the country. The children were transported to their new homes on trains that were labeled "orphan trains" or "baby trains". This relocation of children ended in 1930 due to decreased need for farm labor in the Midwest. Background The first orphanage in the United States was reportedly established in 1729 in Natchez, MS, but institutional orphanages were uncommon before the early 19th century. Relatives or neighbors usually raised children who had lost their parents. Arrangements were informal and rarely involved courts.Around 1830, the number of homeless children in large Eastern cities such as New York City exploded. In 1850, there were an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 homeless children in New York City. At the time, New York City's population was only 500,000. Some children were orphaned when their parents died in epidemics of typhoid, yellow fever or the flu. Others were abandoned due to poverty, illness, or addiction. Many children sold matches, rags, or newspapers to survive. For protection against street violence, they banded together and formed gangs.In 1853, a young minister named Charles Loring Brace became concerned with the plight of street children (often known as "street Arabs"). He founded the Children's Aid Society. During its first year the Children's Aid Society primarily offered boys religious guidance and vocational and academic instruction. Eventually, the society established the nation's first runaway shelter, the Newsboys' Lodging House, where vagrant boys received inexpensive room and board and basic education. Brace and his colleagues attempted to find jobs and homes for individual children, but they soon became overwhelmed by the numbers needing placement. Brace hit on the idea of sending groups of children to rural areas for adoption.Brace believed that street children would have better lives if they left the poverty and debauchery of their lives in New York City and were instead raised by morally upright farm families. Recognizing the need for labor in the expanding farm country, Brace believed that farmers would welcome homeless children, take them into their homes and treat them as their own. His program would turn out to be a forerunner of modern foster care.After a year of dispatching children individually to farms in nearby Connecticut, Pennsylvania and rural New York, the Children's Aid Society mounted its first large-scale expedition to the Midwest in September 1854. The term "Orphan Train" The phrase "orphan train" was first used in 1854 to describe the transportation of children from their home area via the railroad. However, the term "Orphan Train" was not widely used until long after the Orphan Train program had ended.The Children's Aid Society referred to its relevant division first as the Emigration Department, then as the Home-Finding Department, and finally, as the Department of Foster Care. Later, the New York Foundling Hospital sent out what it called "baby" or "mercy" trains.Organizations and families generally used the terms "family placement" or "out-placement" ("out" to distinguish it from the placement of children "in" orphanages or asylums) to refer to orphan train passengers.Widespread use of the term "orphan train" may date to 1978, when CBS aired a fictional miniseries entitled The Orphan Trains. One reason the term was not used by placement agencies was that less than half of the children who rode the trains were in fact orphans, and as many as 25 percent had two living parents. Children with both parents living ended up on the trains—or in orphanages—because their families did not have the money or desire to raise them or because they had been abused or abandoned or had run away. And many teenage boys and girls went to orphan train sponsoring organizations simply in search of work or a free ticket out of the city.The term "orphan trains" is also misleading because a substantial number of the placed-out children didn't take the railroad to their new homes and some didn't even travel very far. The state that received the greatest number of children (nearly one-third of the total) was New York. Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania also received substantial numbers of children. For most of the orphan train era, the Children's Aid Society bureaucracy made no distinction between local placements and even its most distant ones. They were all written up in the same record books and, on the whole, managed by the same people. Also, the same child might be placed one time in the West and the next time—if the first home did not work out—in New York City. The decision about where to place a child was made almost entirely on the basis of which alternative was most readily available at the moment the child needed help. The first Orphan Train The first group of 45 children arrived in Dowagiac, Michigan, on October 1, 1854. The children had traveled for days in uncomfortable conditions. They were accompanied by E. P. Smith of the Children's Aid Society. Smith himself had let two different passengers on the riverboat from Manhattan adopt boys without checking their references. Smith added a boy he met in the Albany railroad yard—a boy whose claim to orphanhood Smith never bothered to verify. At a meeting in Dowagiac, Smith played on his audience's sympathy while pointing out that the boys were handy and the girls could be used for all types of housework.In an account of the trip published by the Children's Aid Society, Smith said that in order to get a child, applicants had to have recommendations from their pastor and a justice of the peace, but it is unlikely that this requirement was strictly enforced. By the end of that first day, fifteen boys and girls had been placed with loc.... Discover the Jody Hedlund popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Jody Hedlund books.

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  • How Sweet It Is synopsis, comments

    How Sweet It Is

    Robin Lee Hatcher

    He lost his brother. She lost her dream. Together, they might find what they’re really looking for.Holly Stanford is doing the best she can with the restaurant she inherited f...

  • The Vow synopsis, comments

    The Vow

    Jody Hedlund

    In this ebook historical romance novella by Jody Hedlund, young Rosemarie finds herself drawn to Thomas, the son of the nearby baron. But just as her feelings begin to grow, a man ...