The Orphan Trains

The Orphan Trains

DVD - 2006
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Examines the efforts of the Children's Aid Society in New York, organized by minister Charles Loring Brace, which from 1853 to 1929 sent over 100,000 unwanted and orphaned children from the city to homes in rural America.
Publisher: [Alexandria, Va.?] : PBS Home Video, [2006]
ISBN: 9780793691500
Branch Call Number: DVD 362.734 O749
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (approx. 60 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 4 3/4 in


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Jul 03, 2017

I seem to be a kick of sad children stories. I had never heard of the Orphan Trains, my friend told me about them recently and I borrowed a book on the subject, but it was fiction and I was more interested in fact. I recently borrowed Oranges and Sunshine (the book and the DVD) and it is the story of the British children’s migration scheme (the British sent many young children abroad to Commonwealth countries). Apparently that was an acceptable solution for dealing with orphans, illegitimate, abandoned and/or neglected children. The Orphan train program sent 10,000 New York city street children to rural American towns to be adopted between 1853-1929 by the Children’s Aid Society. This documentary was interesting because it actually interviews elderly adults who were sent West on the Orphan Trains. Some sad, unhappy stories, but also some happy, successful stories. Still a bit of a wonder in this day and age that children were treated so poorly? Neglectfully? Optimistically? Hopefully?

Jan 14, 2017

An amazing piece of history that I wasn't even aware of.

Sep 03, 2016

A wonderful and moving documentary by filmmakers Janet Graham (director/producer) and Ed Gray (writer/producer) who raced to interview the last of the surviving orphans. Each one of the former orphans gives a vibrant, heartbreaking, or wonderful account of being placed on trains heading west with some belongings and a name tag (some were itty-bitty tots). While most were clueless about what was happening, due to their age, all hoped to be adopted into families who would take care of them and love them. Some were fortunate, and many had it tougher (some farmers saw them as free labor). It was a time of transition, in our history, when children were no longer expected to be part of the labor force. It was a new era, where kids would get a chance to play and be educated. Highly recommend. American Experience always showcases interesting documentaries.


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