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The Orphan Trains
The Orphan Trains
The composition of the orphan trains that departed New York City carrying more than 200,000 children from various East Coast orphanages, to all points West across the United States became the largest mass migration of children in US history.
A collection of stories that effectively communicates little known details about children who faced nearly insurmountable odds. From agonizing letters written by desperate mothers, to news stories of the latest train, or of newsboys looking out for each other, the humanity of individuals caught up in the sweep of history is unmistakable.
In 1853 the US began evaluation of railroad routes to the Pacific with mapping announcements going to Europe and the rest of the world. Praises went forth of coming to America and obtaining free land. As a result the US received the largest number of immigrants. Port cities became over crowed prompting jobs and cheap labor. New York City had the largest influx of immigrants. Many immigrants made long overland journeys while countless others stayed living in New York City. Sickness, poverty, job competition and no money led to instability and desperation abandoning children to the city streets. The orphan trains were the next leg of the journey for many offspring of immigrant parents.
As of 1854‐1929, over 200,000 orphans, half‐orphans and street children from the urban East Coast were relocated to all points West across America in an effort to find a family home. This phenomenal part of American history was the largest mass migration of children to take place on American soil, never to be duplicated again.
The diverse narrations in this book deliver gainful knowledge into a branch of learning and preservation of little‐known details of American history reaching a broad spectrum of academic and universal readership.
John Graham Tucker, president of Norfleet Press, New York, New York
“In a most beautiful and professional way, this book represents a true labor of love. A candid, humbling, but ultimately inspiring look at a very particular theme and period in American history. The archival photos of newsboys and bootblacks surviving on the streets of New York. Hauntingly good!"
Diana Serra Cary, author of Hollywood‘s Children, Los Angeles,California
Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York provides an insightful overview of how responsible persons made drastic decisions based on facts, common sense and a limited number of real life options. It is a unique book that belongs on the shelf of every professional, and in collected works of every library. This book reveals, probably for the first time to millions, the heroic work undertaken by the New York Foundling and the Children’s Aid Society. The book envisions a part of American history which might have been a lifelong tragic loss. An excellent book!
Art and Susan Zuckerman, Stephen Duer [historians, lecture series], New York, New York
“An absolutely incredible book! A timeless classic and a fascinating story written by a very talented lady. This author portrays the children’s stories so well. Classic images of our distant past, the pictures are beautiful! To acquire an appreciation for New York’s history this book is a “have got to pick up,” as it is one of a kind. Really a wonderful and classy book. A concentrated New York College course has been built
upon this accomplished book alone.”
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Reader Reviews for "Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York"
|Reviewed by Renee Wendinger
|Reviewed by author Donna Aviles
Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York
by Renee Wendinger
The orphan train movement of 1854-1929 was a 75-year period in American history when over 250,000 orphaned and abandoned children were transported by train from East coast cities to farming communities in the Midwest in search of homes. The brainchild of Rev. Charles Loring Brace who founded the Children’s Aid Society, the process was soon duplicated by other agencies, including the New York Foundling Hospital. Known at the time as “placing out”, the orphan train movement has come to be recognized as the forerunner of today’s foster care system.
Renee Wendinger, president of the Orphan Train Riders of NY and daughter of orphan train rider Sophie Kaminsky Hillesheim, has recently released Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York. A wonderful addition to other books available on this subject, Extra! Extra! takes a unique approach to the topic, educating the reader through archival materials such as newspaper articles, rider biographies, letters written by mothers who were forced to abandon their children, and original poetry. There are several books that delve deeply into the history of this time, but this work puts a very personal face on the subject that will no doubt grab the interest of anyone who is fortunate enough to pick it up.
A 180-page hardcover, 8 ½ x 11 book using high quality gloss paper, Extra! Extra! is divided into two sections. The first half of the book gives a concise history of the orphan trains, the Children’s Aid Society and the New York Foundling Hospital. There are many wonderful photographs on each page and, as someone who has studied and written about the orphan trains, I was thrilled to find new and interesting material and pictures. There are over thirty biographies of children who rode the trains and there is even an entry by Baby Peggy, a child star from the 1900’s who visited the Foundling Home in 1923.
The second half of Extra! Extra! is devoted to the Newsboys and Bootblacks of the time period. I was most struck to learn that although these boys worked for pennies a day, they had a strong code of conduct and were especially protective of one another. The reader will learn – through photos and news articles of the day – about the lodging, lifestyle, and struggles of the thousands of adolescent boys who often opted for the chance of a better life in the West (via the orphan trains).
Extra! Extra! is very well designed and edited. This documentary type book has already gained the attention of professors at Brooklyn College who have developed a graduate level course based on Extra! Extra! entitled, Flight of the Social Classes in Urban Communities.