The Longview Public Library is pleased to host a special program, “Riders On The Orphan Train.” The multimedia program tells the story of the Orphan Train experiment from 1854 to 1929.
The program will take place in the Library’s Moeschle Room at 7pm, Tuesday, May 21. The event is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Between 1854 and 1929, over 250,000 orphans and unwanted children were taken out of New York City and given away at train stations across America. Children were sent to every state in the continental United States. The last train went to Sulphur Springs, Texas, in 1929. This “placing out” system was originally organized by Methodist minister Charles Loring Brace and the Children’s Aid Society of New York. Brace’s mission was to rid the streets and overcrowded orphanages of homeless children and provide them with an opportunity to find new homes. Many of the children were not orphans but “surrendered” by parents too impoveri
shed to keep them.
The New York Foundling Hospital, a Catholic organization, also sent out children to be placed in Catholic homes.
This seventy-six year experiment in child relocation is filled with the entire spectrum of human emotion and reveals a great deal about the successes and failures of the American Dream.
The one-hour multimedia program combines live music by Phillip Lancaster and Alison Moore, video montage with archival photographs and interviews of survivors, and a dramatic reading from Moore’s 2012 novel, Riders on the Orphan Train by Moore. Although the program is about children, it is designed to engage audiences of all ages and to inform, inspire and raise awareness about this little-known part of history.
Local relatives and acquaintances of Orphan Train Riders are especially invited to attend and share their stories with the audience. For more information about the Longview Public Library, contact 903-237-1350 or visit www.LongviewLibrary.com