The Orphan Trains Placing Out in America

by Marilyn Irvin Holt

The Orphan Trains Placing Out in America Synopsis

From 1850 to 1930 America witnessed a unique emigration and resettlement of at least 200,000 children and several thousand adults, primarily from the East Coast to the West. This 'placing out,' an attempt to find homes for the urban poor, was best known by the 'orphan trains' that carried the children. Holt carefully analyzes the system, initially instituted by the New York Children's Aid Society in 1853, tracking its imitators as well as the reasons for its creation and demise. She captures the children's perspective with the judicious use of oral histories, institutional records, and newspaper accounts. This well-written volume sheds new light on the multifaceted experience of children's immigration, changing concepts of welfare, and Western expansion. It is good, scholarly social history. -Library Journal

The Orphan Trains Placing Out in America Press Reviews

Soon there will be no memories of the little companies, ' as they were called, of children setting out with an adult leader for a new life. This little book is kind of a preservation movement, and a contribution to our understanding of how the West was won. As a portrait of the time's charitable networks, The Orphan Trains succeeds. . . . [Holt's] work brings to light a meaningful concept: the idea that charity; then and now, is sometimes tinged with greed, indifference, hostility, self-promotion and is an institution that can serve the giver more than the receiver. From 1850 to 1930 America witnessed a unique emigration and resettlement of at least 200,000 children and several thousand adults, primarily from the East Coast to the West. This 'placing out, ' an attempt to find homes for the urban poor, was best known by the 'orphan trains' that carried the children. Holt carefully analyzes the system, initially instituted by the New York Children's Aid Society in 1853, tracking its imitators as well as the reasons for its creation and demise. She captures the children's perspective with the judicious use of oral histories, institutional records, and newspaper accounts. This well-written volume sheds new light on the multifaceted experience of children's immigration, changing concepts of welfare, and Western expansion. It is good, scholarly social history. -Library Journal

Book Information

ISBN: 9780803272651
Publication date: 1st June 1992
Author: Marilyn Irvin Holt
Publisher: Bison Books an imprint of University of Nebraska Press
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 264 pages
Categories:

About Marilyn Irvin Holt

Marilyn Irvin Holt, former director of publications at the Kansas State Historical Society; is a freelance editor, writer, and researcher and teaches historical editing at the University of Kansas.

More About Marilyn Irvin Holt

Share this book