The Orphan Trains

The Orphan Trains

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by Alice K. Flanagan

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Tells the story of how homeless children during the late 1800s and early 1900s were taken to new homes on trains which were known as orphan trains.  See more details below


Tells the story of how homeless children during the late 1800s and early 1900s were taken to new homes on trains which were known as orphan trains.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
From the time of the Civil War until the emergence of the Great Depression, thousands of American children were sent west on what came to be known as the orphan trains. These children were generally orphans, homeless waifs, or members of poor families unable to support them. Foundling and children's aid societies organized the trains that stopped at town after town. In those stopping places the children would be paraded in front of potential foster parents who would select the child they wished to raise. Brothers and sisters would frequently be divided amongst various foster families. Children who remained unselected would re-board the train and repeat the performance at other stops. Although there is no accurate count as to the number of children sent out on the orphan trains, it is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. In The Orphan Trains, the story of those foster children is ably told by writer Alice K. Flanagan. In fact, this illustrated volume in the "We The People" series combines strong research, an adept and heartfelt narrative, and a touching handling of a compelling story. This is an outstanding book that tells a story that children and adults will profit from knowing. 2006, Compass Point Books/Capstone Press, Ages 9 to 12.
—Greg M. Romaneck

Product Details

Capstone Press
Publication date:
We the People: Industrial America Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
9 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Alice Flanagan has written more than 100 titles for children and teachers. Her books include holidays, phonics for beginning readers, career guidance, biographies of U.S. presidents and first ladies, and informational books about famous people and events in American history. Ms. Flanagan lives with her husband in Chicago, Illinois. As a writer/photographer team, they have published several books together. Their travels have taken them to many beautiful places and brought them many lifelong friends.

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Orphan Trains 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a scholarly thesis on specific social programs, from the mid-1860's to the early 20th Century, wherein the orphaned or abandoned children of the major Eastern urban centers were sent by rail to new homes in the 'West' - actually the area we think of as the Mid-west today -- in order to give them a better chance at a productive life away from the negative influences of the city streets from which they were 'rescued'. Much detail is presented about the workings and philosophies of the 'placing-out' programs and the people involved in them, both advocates and detractors. Observations, deductions, and arguments are well made, often to the point of tedium. Text is sparsely sprinkled with quotes from letters and interviews with surviving 'out-placed' children grown to adulthood. An interesting read if your subject is the evolution of social programs for children over the past seven decades. Don't expect to learn much about the railroads that participated in the processes -- it's about people, not trains.