Orphan Trains: The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed

Paperback | March 1, 2004

byStephen O'Connor

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In mid-nineteenth-century New York, vagrant youth, both orphans and runaways, filled the streets. For years the city had been sweeping these children into prisons or almshouses, but in 1853 the young minister Charles Loring Brace proposed a radical solution to the problem by creating the Children's Aid Society, an organization that fought to provide homeless children with shelter, education, and, for many, a new family in the country. Combining a biography of Brace with firsthand accounts of orphans, Stephen O'Connor here tells of the orphan trains that, between 1854 and 1929, spirited away some 250,000 destitute children to rural homes in every one of the forty-eight contiguous states.

A powerful blend of history, biography, and adventure, Orphans Trains remains the definitive work on this little-known episode in American history.

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From the Publisher

In mid-nineteenth-century New York, vagrant youth, both orphans and runaways, filled the streets. For years the city had been sweeping these children into prisons or almshouses, but in 1853 the young minister Charles Loring Brace proposed a radical solution to the problem by creating the Children's Aid Society, an organization that fou...

From the Jacket

In mid-nineteenth-century New York, vagrant youth, both orphans and runaways, filled the streets. For years the city had been sweeping these children into prisons or almshouses, but in 1853 the young minister Charles Loring Brace proposed a radical solution to the problem by creating the Children's Aid Society, an organization that fou...

Stephen O'Connor teaches creative writing at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of Will My Name Be Shouted Out?, an account of his years teaching creative writing at an inner-city school in New York, and a collection of short fiction, Rescue.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:March 1, 2004Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226616673

ISBN - 13:9780226616674

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue: Working for Human Happiness
Part I: Want
Testimony: John Brady and Harry Morris
1. The Good Father
2. Flood of Humanity
Part II: Doing
Testimony: John Jackson
3. City Missionary
4. Draining the City, Saving the Children
5. Journey to Dowagiac
6. A Voice Among the Newsboys
7. Happy Circle
8. Almost a Miracle
Part III: Redoing
Testimony: Lotte Stern
9. Invisible Children
10. Neglect of the Poor
11. The Trials of Charley Miller
12. The Death and Life of Charles Loring Brace
Conclusion: Legacy
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“In chronicling one of the first ambitious, privately sponsored social welfare programs in the United States, Mr. O’Connor provides an absorbing portrait of the nation at a moment of wrenching change, a moment that has in many ways not yet passed. . . . Orphan Trains is a moving and instructive story, and as he tells it, Mr. O’Connor never loses sight of the real people and real lives at its center.”