The Orphan Train Movement Essay

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Starting in the 1850s, there were great increases in urbanization. Movements such as The Great Migration lead to huge populations in newly industrialized cities. In addition, there was a great increase in immigration, especially from families of eastern and southern European descent. The Orphan Train Movement’s purpose was to give the thousands of children in New York City that were left without homes due to increased urbanization and industrialization a new family out west with good living conditions and values and to increase the number of farm workers. The children mostly were placed with good families, but some children were treated as slaved by their families. Additionally, most of the children were excited to work; however, some were…show more content…
With the five dollars that Archbishop Closkey gave to start the program, Sister Mary Irene formed the New York Foundling Hospital. The Adoption Agency of the New York Foundling Hospital was dedicated to finding suitable homes for the orphan children left on their doorstep. After hearing of Brace’s orphan trains, Sister Mary Irene started her own “mercy trains” in which children would travel west to live with a good family and to get a Catholic upbringing. This was the start of the Orphan Train Movement. Contrary to its name, the Orphan Train riders included not only orphans, but also children with only one parent, children that were given up because their family was too big, and runaways. These children often underwent parental death, abandonment, or prostitution. Still other orphans were immigrant children. They suffered from the overpopulation of New York and lack of job availability. Even the jobs they could get did not pay enough for them to survive. Many of the orphans turned to selling small items such as newspapers or matches to survive on the streets. These children often formed gangs to protect themselves from the sometimes violent world of street life in New York City. Police, after finding some of these gangs,
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