Orphan Trains

Report
LESSON FOR OCTOBER 2, 2013
Agenda
 Prior Knowledge questions/class discussion
 Orphan Train power point presentation (take Cornell notes)
 Orphan Train Activity (pairs)
 Orphan Train Wrap-Up – Complete power point presentation
 Discuss activity and compete HOT-ROC Evaluation prompt
 HW: Complete Orphan Train Activity Questions and Evaluation
prompt if necessary.
C O M M O N C O R E S TAT E S TA N DA R D S
C OV E R E D I N T H E L E S S O N
RH Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 11-12
grade: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9
WHST Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 11-12
grade: 2B, 2C, 2E, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10
LESSON OBJECTIVES
In the session we will cover the following objectives:
 Cover the historical event of the Orphan Train Movement
 Identify the socio-economic circumstances that led to the exposure of children in the United
States.
 Identify the socio-cultural attitudes that influenced perceptions of social class values and
practices of child nurturing.
 Identify reformers, reforming organizations and reforms for 19th-century child services.
 Evaluate how these reforms continue to help or hinder child nurture and development in
modern times.
ORPHAN TRAINS
Placing Out In America
P R I O R K N OW L E D G E A N D
BAC KG RO U N D Q U E S T I O N S
 What or who is an expendable?
 Who classifies as an orphan?
 What social-economic conditions support child labor?
 What social-economic conditions abolish child labor?
 What do you know about the foster care system in the United States?
 Why is it illegal for an adult, who is not a child’s legal guardian, to
cross a state line with a child?
ORPHAN TRAINS
Overview
 During 1854-1929 150,000 to 200,000
“orphaned” children were “placed out” (or
moved out west from the east coast) by the
Children’s Aid Society and the eastern
Foundling Hospitals to be rehomed or
otherwise indentured into western agricultural
communities who were in need of work hands
for farm labor.
 The expendable urchins of New York
and Boston had been abandoned on the
city streets, dropped off on the steps of
the wealthy, left at church entrances and
hospitals doors in the hope that they
would be “foundlings” (found, rather
than lost children without a hopeful
future).
Original letters from Mothers of abandoned babes to the
New York Foundling Hospital
 The poor immigrant population, and even 2nd and 3rd generation Americans were
unable to provide for their young, and therefore exposed them to the city elements.
 While Eastern factories were swelling with small, industrious hands (and New
England began to write the first child labor legislation enforced in the U.S.) the
expanding western fields and economy needed a labor force for farming and
shop-keeping. And, a plan soon emerged.
 In 1855 an Illinois newspaper editor commented on the need to
redistribute the nation’s work force. ‘Our county is swarming with a
population which in order to be kept from want and distress must be
employed. Some general system, which shall induce a withdrawal
from the towns… is the great demand of the times.’ This
commentator was not alone in his solution. Eastern urban reformers
and some charities had reached the same conclusion, and in New
York City, Charles Loring Brace, a reformer, had ‘resolved to make
Charles Loring
Brace, Founder
of the Children's
Aid Society
use … of the endless demand for children’s labor in the Western
country.’ This demand and the plight of the urban poor allows the
initiation of placing out, a system that brought the two worlds
together.
 The Children's Aid Society, as well as the New York Foundling Hospital,
Boston’s Children’s Mission and the Philadelphia Women’s Industrial Aid
Association moved the “orphans of the storm” by rail to the Midwest, West, South
and Southwest, where they were handed over to those who were there to take
them.
ORPHAN TRAIN ACTIVITY
 Sit with your 6pm clock partners.
 Read through the directions of the activity together, and begin working on the
packet.
 After you read each document (the primary resources) share your insights with
your partner (2-3 minutes) and then each of you need to record your responses on
your own worksheet.
 You will have 35 minutes of class time to complete this assignment, and what you
do not finish you may complete for homework.
 You many use additional paper as needed.
 This assignment is due on Friday!
S P E C U L A T O RY Q U E S T I O N :
Of the three groups pictured, which one pursued legal policy
measures to end child labor, and provide mandated public
education for children, thereby making child labor illegal, and
public education mandatory?
Photo 1.: John D.
Rockefeller’s
philanthropic posturing,
generously giving pocket
change to a kid on the
street.
Photo 2. Sisters of the
NYC Foundling Hospital
nursing new born babies.
Photo 3. Trade Union
crew photo.
ROCKEFELLER’S WORK FORCE
The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar
or coffee, and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under
the sun.
~John D. Rockefeller
Attributed in How to Win Friends and Influence People (1937) by Dale Carnegie
I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people's efforts than 100% of my own efforts.
~John D. Rockefeller
Though Catholic Charities
often took the initial steps
in sheltering and nurturing
abandoned children, the
Sisters who ran the
Founding organizations had
no legal training, nor
pursued political activity,
due to the “spiritual”
nature or limitation of their
vocation.
The trade unions were actively invested in removing the
child labor force to improve their own work conditions.
This also created a demand for public education, which the
unions helped articulate and legally pass.
HEGEMONY
Hegemony is the social, cultural, ideological, or
economic influence exerted by a dominant group. It is a
worldview that justifies the status quo of bourgeois and elitist
domination of the other social classes of the society. In the
praxis of hegemony, imperial dominance is established by
means of cultural imperialism, whereby the leader state
(hegemon) dictates the internal politics and the societal
character of the subordinate states that constitute the
hegemonic sphere of influence, either by an internal,
sponsored government (aka, the political machine) or by an
external, installed government (corrupted senators).
Capitalist titan, John Rockefeller, had the means to bank the
popular perception that he was a “Captain of Industry” to the
common person in need of a job, and therefore the poor were
indebted to him for their livelihood.
Those who own the words, own the world.
What perception of the
elite is banked through
this popular comic, Little
Orphan Annie? Does this
comic possibly serve an
elite hegemony? Explain
how.
WHY DID THE ORPHAN TRAINS END?
 The last Orphan Train left the east coast in 1929. Many factors contributed
to the decline and eventual ending of the placing out programs. However, the
Orphan Train movement and the success of other Children's Aid initiatives led
to a host of child welfare reforms, including child labor laws, adoption and the
establishment of foster care services, public education, the provision of health
care and nutrition and vocational training. The Children’s Aid Society and the
New York Foundling Hospital are still open, and still working on behalf of child
services.
FAC T O R S C O N T R I BU T I N G T O T H E O F T H E O R P H A N T R A I N S
New Legislation Restricting Interstate Placement

State legislatures began to enact laws restricting or forbidding
the interstate placement of children.

In 1887, Michigan passed the first law in the United States
regulating the placement of children within the state. Again in
1895, Michigan passed a state law requiring out-of-state, childplacement agencies to post a bond for each child the agency
brought into the state of Michigan.
 In 1899, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota enacted similar but
stricter laws which had the effect of prohibiting the placement of
incorrigible, diseased, insane or criminal children within their state
boundaries.
 Using these state laws as models, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky,
Missouri, Ohio, North and South Dakota passed similar laws within
five years.
Child Labor Reform
In 1832 New England unions condemn child labor and reform against it.

The New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics and Other
Workingmen resolve that “Children should not be allowed to labor in the
factories from morning till night, without any time for healthy recreation and
mental culture,” for it “endangers their . . . well-being and health”
 1836 Early trade unions propose state minimum age laws

Union members at the National Trades’ Union Convention make the first
formal, public proposal recommending that states establish minimum ages for
factory work
 1836 First state child labor law

Massachusetts requires children under 15 working in factories to attend school at
least 3 months/year
 1842 States begin limiting children’s work days

Massachusetts limits children’s work days to 10 hours; other states soon pass
similar laws—but most of these laws are not consistently enforced
 1876 Labor movement urges minimum age law

Working Men’s Party proposes banning the employment of children under the age
of 14
 1881 Newly formed AFL supports state minimum age laws

The first national convention of the American Federation of Labor passes a
resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment
Development of Foster Care System
 The Foster care systems of both the United States and Great Britain
developed in the 1853. The US system focused on local child placement
within the state, rather than beyond state borders.
 Legislation establishing the Children’s Bureau (first
conceived by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905-1906) was
passed and signed in 1910-1911 and became effective in 1912
under President Taft. The bill emphasized that the Children’s
Bureau would investigate and report on issues from all parts of
the country. The Bureau was not to encroach on the rights of
the states and would not eliminate the duty of the states to
deal with the child welfare issues within their jurisdictions. The
Bureau would effectuate the federal government's duty to
make information available to the various states, supporting
them as they cared for children within their boundaries.
H O T RO C - E VA LUAT I O N P RO M P T
R E S P O N D T O T H E P R O M P T I N A C O M P L E T E PA R AG R A P H
Do you believe that the Children’s Aid Society and
Foundling Hospitals worked for the best interests of the
children? What were the strengths and weaknesses of
these programs? Have we improved upon them in the 21stcentury? Explain.
RESOURCES
 Brace, Charles Loring. Little Laborers of New York City. Harper’s
Magazine, August 1873.
 Holt, Marilyn Irvin. The Orphan Trains; Placing Out In America.
(Omaha, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press), 1992.
 Trammell, Rebecca. Orphan Trains Myths and Legal Reality. The
Modern America, Fall 2009.

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