Alone in the World: Orphans and Orphanages in America

Overview

Orphanages and other homes for children have long fueled the imaginations and fantasies of young people. In the first book of its kind, award-winning nonfiction author Catherine Reef uncovers the true history of orphanages, revealing what it was like to eat, sleep, study, and play in such institutions, why children were sent to live there in the first place (not always because their parents were dead), what happened to them after they left, and more. Carefully researched and vividly brought to life through ...

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Overview

Orphanages and other homes for children have long fueled the imaginations and fantasies of young people. In the first book of its kind, award-winning nonfiction author Catherine Reef uncovers the true history of orphanages, revealing what it was like to eat, sleep, study, and play in such institutions, why children were sent to live there in the first place (not always because their parents were dead), what happened to them after they left, and more. Carefully researched and vividly brought to life through accessible writing, first-hand accounts, and more than 70 compelling archival photographs and prints, this intriguing piece of our country’s history should satisfy all curiosity seekers. Endnotes, bibliography, index.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The highly readable text gives readers a powerful glimpse into the living conditions of these orphans" KIRKUS REVIEWS Kirkus Reviews

"Intensely dramatic history...exhaustive detail...thoroughly documented...stirring photos and historic prints...there's a lot to talk about here." BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA

"A striking assortment of archival photographs and informative captions...carefully researched and sourced...a thorough overview." BCCB Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"[A] thoroughly researched history...[a]fascinating account. An important historical resource for public and school libraries." SLJ, starred School Library Journal, Starred

"Exhaustively detailed...attractively designed...offers a perceptive look at American society's evolving views of childhood." HORN BOOK Horn Book

"Reef presents a balanced picture...fascinating, disturbing, with dozens of heartbreaking photographs of lost children..." VOYA VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Orphans and orphanages, although topics of interest in children's fiction, have been neglected in nonfiction except for accounts of the orphan trains of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This gap has now been filled by Reef's thoroughly researched history of children's homes in the U.S. beginning in 1729, when a place for girls was founded in New Orleans. The author relates how many orphaned or impoverished children were consigned to almshouses, where they often lived in filthy, crowded conditions with criminals and the mentally ill. In the 1820s and 1830s, the view that children should be given "asylum" from the horrors of the poorhouses became widely accepted. Reef also discuses the homes opened for orphaned soldiers' and sailors' children throughout the country following the Civil War and a 1909 White House conference that resulted in a national policy urging that children be kept in their own homes by providing financial aid to their widowed or deserted mothers. She ends with a discussion of the challenges the U.S. faces today in caring for growing numbers of homeless, abused, or neglected children. Illustrated with archival photographs and reproductions, this book contains numerous endnotes and an extensive selected bibliography. An afterword detailing the later lives of some of the children included makes a satisfying conclusion to this fascinating account. An important historical resource for public and school libraries.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A solid, but not stellar, volume surveys the development of orphanages in the United States from the beginning of the 19th century to their decline in the 20th. Reef capably examines the social conditions that led to the establishment of the various institutions serving the children of poverty, from orphan asylums and reformatories, to the orphan trains and settlement houses, and finally to the New Deal and A.F.D.C. The highly readable text gives readers a powerful glimpse into the living conditions of these orphans, from accommodations and clothing to playtime and school, carefully explaining the various underpinning philosophies that led to those conditions. The narrative makes effective use of primary source material ranging from individual orphanages' histories (every asylum had an historian, it seems) to Davy Crockett and Charles Dickens; archival drawings and photographs further develop the stories (though, regrettably, the captions do not include dates or credits). Although most quoted dialogue is attributed in chapter notes, and an exhaustive bibliography is appended, glaringly absent is any hint of further reading for children whose interest has been piqued. A crying shame. (afterword, picture credits) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618356706
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 1160L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Reef is the author of more than 35 nonfiction books for young people. Her books for Clarion include the highly acclaimed John Steinbeck and Sigmund Freud which was the recipient of the 2002 Sydney Taylor Award, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries. She lives in College Park, Maryland.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Thrown upon the World 1
Chapter 2 Asylum Children 17
Chapter 3 Saving Youthful Hearts 33
Chapter 4 Let Society Beware! 49
Chapter 5 Soldiers' Orphans 65
Chapter 6 Everybody's Business 83
Chapter 7 This Army of Children 101
Afterword: Where Life Led Some of the Children Who Appeared in This Book 119
Endnotes 123
Selected Bibliography 127
Picture Credits 130
Index 131
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