This is the second book by Mrs. Inskeep that breaks new ground with respect to the estimated 200,000 poor and abandoned orphaned children who were shipped from New York City orphanages to western families for adoption between 1853 and 1929. These children were placed primarily by the New York Foundling Hospital (NYFH) and the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and are now referred to as “Orphan Train Riders.” Information as to the identities of a large number of these children has been preserved in federal and state censuses taken between 1855 and 1925, as well as in the 1890 New York City Police Census, and represents a potential boon to the descendants of these foundlings. This book, the sequel to Mars. Inskeep’s 1995 work on the orphans from the New York Foundling Hospital, treats the residents of the Children’s Aid Society.
While it is estimated that the Society placed as many as 30,000 children in permanent homes, the names in this volume represent the 5,000 children who lived in one of the dozen or so lodging houses of the Children’s Aid Society long enough to be counted as a resident in one of the federal, state, or city enumerations conducted between 1855 and 1925. The orphans are arranged chronologically by census, and alphabetically thereunder. The descriptions vary from census to census; however, in virtually all cases they provide the individual’s name, race, sex, age, and status (inmate versus caretaker). Researchers should note that, although not included in this work, they may find references to the birthplace of the child’s parents in the 1920 federal census and references to the birthplace of each child in the 1925 New York State census.
Genealogists, students of social history, and persons intrigued by the resurgence of interest in orphanages will find Mrs. Inskeep’s Introduction compelling reading, particularly her history of the Children’s Aid Society, the influential role played by the Rev. Charles Loring Brace, and descriptions of the lodging houses. The author has added a bibliography of contemporary sources for our further edification.
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