In the spring of 1835, at the pier of Buffalo's Canal District, the most dangerous square mile in developing America, 17 year old Ciara Sloane steps onto land, alone, save for her younger sisters, orphaned at sea on the voyage from Ireland. Turned away by her only family on this side of the Atlantic, Ciara is admitted to the almshouse, along with her younger sisters, as the nursemaid, charged with bringing order to the chaos that is the children's ward. With the help of the Christian Ladies Charitable Society, led by the formidable Mrs. Farrell, and the compassionate and charming Dr. Michael Nolan, Ciara is able to transform the children's ward from a place of loneliness and despair to one of optimism and hope.
Orphans and Inmates is the first novel in a trilogy about the Sloane sisters and their experiences at the Erie County Almshouse and the Buffalo Orphan Asylum. The story explores the largely ignored origins of the social welfare system through the experiences of those who were most profoundly affected by poverty, namely women and children. It depicts the ruthlessness, depravity, compassion and hope experienced by those forced to seek institutional relief.
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About the Author
After six years as an assistant professor, Rosanne focused on her family, husband Bob Higgins, and sons, Max and Charlie. She also opened a successful business, tapping into her love for animals with a doggy daycare. This led to charitable efforts in animal rescue. During this time, she also turned her attentions to a more personal fundraising effort following the tragic death of her older son, Max, from a rare pediatric cancer at age 11. This event inspired in her the ability to imagine the previously untold stories of personal and private sufferings.
In the Spring of 2012, she was invited to join the Erie County Poorhouse Cemetery Project, undertaken by the Department of Anthropology at the University at Buffalo While writing her dissertation in the mid 90's, Rosanne had gotten to know many of the inmates of the institutions mentioned above as she pieced together what little could be told of their lives while researching their deaths. For over 20 years, she had a desire to tell the other side of the story in a way that would be accessible to more than just the scholarly community. Rosanne's need to tell their tale has resulted in her first novel, Orphans and Inmates, which is the first in a series chronicling fictional accounts of Poorhouse residents inspired by the historical data.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Interesting story. Very nice for those interested in early Buffalo, NY history.
Excellent read. I couldn't stop reading it. Highly recommend this book. Very interesting history about Buffalo which I did not know and I was born here.