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Orphan Train Research Paper

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Lost Children: Riders on the Orphan Train
“When a child of the streets stands before you in rags, with a tear-stained face, you cannot easily forget him. And yet, you are perplexed what to do. The human soul is difficult to interfere with. You hesitate how far you should go.” – Charles Loring Brace
Between 1854 and 1929 the United States was engaged in an ambitious, and ultimately controversial, social experiment to rescue poor and homeless children, the Orphan Train Movement. The Orphan Trains operated prior to the federal government’s involvement in child protection and child welfare. While they operated, Orphan Trains moved approximately 200,000 children from cities like New York and Boston to the American West to be adopted. Many of these
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It was at that time that states began passing laws that prohibited placing children across state lines. Additionally, there was criticism from abolitionists who felt that the Orphan Trains supported slavery. Pro-slavery advocates criticized the practice as well, saying that it was making slaves obsolete. In 1912, the U.S. Children’s Bureau was established with the mission of helping states support children and families and alleviate many of the factors that led to children living on the street. As state and local governments became more involved in supporting families, the use of the Orphan Trains was no longer needed (Brown, 2014).
The orphan trains finally stopped in 1930 for several reasons, including a decreased need for farm labor in the Midwest and increased efforts by social service agencies to keep struggling families together. The rise of the welfare system made a major difference, helping with financial support for children, who, in an earlier age, might have taken to the streets(Warren, 1998)
New programs helped immigrants to find jobs and housing when they arrived in America. New laws limited hours children could work, and others made it difficult or impossible for trainloads of orphans to move from one state to another. Individual and small-group foster homes replaced orphanages (Warren,
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