Research – Orphan

Orphan Trains

Note: There are extensive records at the new York Children’s Aid Society but they are not on line because they are restricted.  A manual search in their offices in New York would have to be done by an approved individual.  For records that old, getting approval shouldn’t be that difficult.

On their site is the following.

An estimated 30,000 children were homeless in New York City in the 1850s.

The children ranged in age from about six to 18 and shared a common grim existence. Homeless or neglected, they lived in New York City’s streets and slums with little or no hope of a successful future. Their numbers were large – an estimated 30,000 children were homeless in New York City in the 1850s. Charles Loring Brace, the founder of The Children’s Aid Society, believed that there was a way to change the futures of these children. By removing youngsters from the poverty and debauchery of the city streets and placing them in morally upright farm families, he thought they would have a chance of escaping a lifetime of suffering.

He proposed that these children be sent by train to live and work on farms out west. They would be placed in homes for free but they would serve as an extra pair of hands to help with chores around the farm. They wouldn’t be indentured. In fact, older children placed by The Children’s Aid Society were to be paid for their labors.

The Orphan Train Movement lasted from 1853 to the early 1900s and more than 120,000 (note: as many as 200,000) children were placed. This ambitious, unusual and controversial social experiment is now recognized as the beginning of the foster care concept in the United States.

Orphan Trains stopped at more than 45 states across the country as well as Canada and Mexico. During the early years, Indiana received the largest number of children. There were numerous agencies nationwide that placed children on trains to go to foster homes. In New York, besides Children’s Aid, other agencies that placed children included Children’s Village (then known as the New York Juvenile Asylum), what is now New York Foundling Hospital, and the former Orphan Asylum Society of the City of New York, which is now the Graham-Windham Home for Children.

http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/about/history/orphan-trains

More information can be turned up by Googling the following search terms <orphan train “North Dakota” names>.

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