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Multiple Years / Orphan Trains
The Orphan Train was a social experiment that transported children from crowded coastal cities of the United States to the country's Midwest for adoption. The orphan trains ran between 1854 and 1929, relocating an estimated 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children. At the time the orphan train movement began, it was estimated that 30,000 vagrant children were living on the streets of New York City. Two charity institutions, The Children's Aid Society (established by Charles Loring Brace) and The New York Foundling Hospital, determined to help these children. The two institutions developed a program that placed homeless city children into homes throughout the country. The children were transported to their new homes on trains which were eventually labeled 'orphan trains.' This period of mass relocation of children in the United States is widely recognized as the beginning of documented foster care in America. Two future governors (John Green Brady of Alaska and Andrew Burke of North Dakota) were orphan train passengers.