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Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Thanks to @SheReads BookClub I received a copy of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Molly, a troubled teen, uncovers an older woman, Vivan's, past while completing her community service hours. But this story is more unique because the background is the real life time in history when orphans were taken on trains to be distributed to new families. . . many times as indentured servants. I could not put this book down!


The last orphan train came to Sulphur Springs, Texas in 1929. The trains stopped in pre-selected towns where people interested in taking a child would assemble.


The Orphan Train Movement 1854-1929. a welfare program that transported children from crowded cities of the United States, such as New York City and Boston, to willing foster homes across the country. The trains relocated an estimated 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children. At the time the orphan train movement began, reformers estimated that 30,000 vagrant children were living on the streets of New York City.


The Orphan Train -The solutions for parentless (and unparented) children have varied tremendously over history and they vary, in part, based on the particular technological, economic, and cultural realities of the time. For more than 75 years, one answer was the orphan train.

van CBS News

The Orphan Train

Orphan Train Riders stopped in Jamestown


The Orphan Train: 1853, a minister named Charles Loring Brace started the orphan train. Brace believed that farmers would welcome homeless children, take them into their homes, and treat them as their own. So he rounded up the kids, got parental permission when he needed it, and took the city kids to the country. Between 1854 and 1929, the trains took over 100,000 children to adoptive parents in 47 states and Canada.


Since many families did not want to take more than one child, some brothers and sisters riding on the Orphan Trains during the late 1800s and early 1900s had to be separated. When this happened, the organizations placing the children tried to keep siblings in the same area. This segment from the West by Orphan Train documentary includes archival photographs, historical re-enactments, a first-person account from Orphan Train rider Stanley Cornell, and an interview with Amanda Wahlmeier, fo...