The New York Foundling Hospital

An Index to the Federal, State, and Local Census Records [1870-1925]


Author: Inskeep, Carolee
Publication Date: 1995
Reprint Date: 2009
Pages: viii 339 pp.
ISBN: 9780806345901


Between 1853 and 1929, an estimated 200,000 poor, abandoned and orphaned children were shipped from New York City orphanages to western families for adoption. 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 encompasses the “Orphan Train Riders” from NYFH.

The names in this volume represent 13,000 children who lived in the Roman Catholic New York Foundling Hospital between 1870 and 1925. The names were extracted from the following enumerations conducted at the hospital: the 1870 and 1880 federal censuses; the New York City Police Census of 1890; the federal censuses of 1900, 1910, and 1920; and the New York State censuses of 1905, 1915, and 1925. The orphans are arranged chronologically by census, and alphabetically thereunder, though only a handful of names exist for 1870. 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.

Mrs. Inskeep’s Introduction to the work consists of an extremely informative history of the NYFH, complete with references to living conditions, immunizations, nursing, schooling, recreation, sources of funding, number of placements, etc.

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