Non-Fiction Books

rootsEarleen B. Cornell

A true story of two American boys living through the hardships of life and the times. Follow Stan and Vic’s story from being orphaned to becoming World War II heroes. A great read for kids and history buffs alike! Orphan train story about two boys five and six years old being put on a train and shipped across the country looking for new parents. They rode from New York to Wellington, Texas and found new parents. Both boys served in World War II.



The Orphan Trains: Placing Out in AmericaPlacing_Out_in_America-75x112
Marilyn Holt

“From 1850 to 1930 America witnessed a unique emigration and resettlement of at least 200,000 children and several thousand adults, primarily from the East Coast to the West.  This ‘placing out,’ an attempt to find homes for the urban poor, was best known by the ‘orphan trains’ that carried the children.  Holt carefully analyzes the system, initially instituted by the New York Children’s Aid Society in 1853, tracking its imitators as well as the reasons for its creation and demise.  She captures the children’s perspective with the judicious use of oral histories, institutional records, and newspaper accounts.  This well-written volume sheds new light on the multifaceted experience of children’s immigration, changing concepts of welfare, and Western expansion.  It is good, scholarly social history.” – Library Journal

“Soon there will be no memories of the ‘little companies,’ as they were called, of children setting out with an adult leader for a new life.  This little book is kind of a preservation movement, and a contribution to our understanding of how the West was won.” – David Shribman, Wall Street Journal

“As a portrait of the time’s charitable networks, The Orphan Trains succeeds . . . [Holt’s] work brings to light a meaningful concept: the idea that charity, then and now, is sometimes tinged with greed, indifference, hostility, self-promotion and is an institution that can serve the giver more than the receiver.” – David James Rose, Washington Times

Emily’s StoryEmily_s_Story_by_Kidder-135x219
The Brave Journey of an Orphan Train Rider

Clark Kidder

It seems incomprehensible that there was a time in America’s not-so-distant past that nearly 200,000 children could be loaded on trains in large cities on our East Coast, sent to the rural Midwest, and presented “for teh picking” to anyone who expressed an interest in them.  That’s exactly what happened between the years 1854 and 1930.

The primitive social experiment became known as “placing out,” and had its origins in a New York City organization founded by Charles Loring Brace called the Children’s Aid Society.  The Society gathered up orphans, half-orphans, and abandoned children from streets and orphanages, and placed them on what are now referred to as “Orphan Trains.”  It was Brace’s belief that there was “always room for one more at a farmer’s table.”  The stories of the individual children involved in this great migration of “little emigrants” have nearly all been lost in the attic of American history.

In this book, the author tells the true story of his paternal grandmother, the late Emily (Reese) Kidder, who, at the tender age of fourteen, became one of the aforementioned children who rode an Orphan Train.  In 1906, Emily was plucked from the Elizabeth Home for Girls, operated by the Children’s Aid Society, and placed on a train, along with eight other children, bound for Hopkinton, Iowa.  Emily’s journey, as it turned out, was only just beginning.  Life had many lessons in store for her – lessons that would involve overcoming adversity, of perseverance, love, and great loss.
Emily’s story is told through the use of primary material, oral history, interviews, and historical photographs.  It is a tribute to the human spirit of an extraordinary young girl who became a woman – a woman to whom the heartfelt phrase “there’s no place like home,” had a very profound meaning.

Orphan Trains and Their Precious CargoAdult Nonfiction Precious Cargo

Clark Kidder

A well-researched volume on the placement agent H.D. Clark and the children he placed.




We_Rode_the_Orphan_Trains-92x112We Rode the Orphan Trains
Andrea Warren

They were “throwaway” kids, living on the streets or in orphanages and foster homes.  Then Charles Loring Brace, a young minister working with the poor in New York City, started the Children’s Aid Society and devised a plan to give these homeless waifs a chance at finding families that they could call their own.

Thus began an extraordinary migration of American children.  Between 1854 and 1929, an estimated 200,000 children, mostly from New York and other cities of the eastern United States, ventured forth to every state in the nation on this journey of hope.

Andrea Warren has shared the stories of some of these orphan train riders here, including Betty, who found a fairy-tale life in a grand hotel; Nettie and her twin, Nellie, who were rescued from their first abusive placement and taken in by a kindhearted family who gave them the love they had hoped for; brothers Howard and Fred, who were adopted into different families; and Edith, who longed to know the secrets of her past.

Listen to these and other child orphans as they tell of the transition and adventure; disappointment and loneliness; and for some, the joy of belonging to their own new families.

Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York
Renée WendingerExtra_Extra_Cover-185x255

Nineteenth-century New York City.  Thousands of immigrants crammed into tenement housing, clamoring for employment.  Dreams of America dashed by the harsh reality of the streets.  Families forced to give up their children, handing off newborns to churches and releasing mere youths to fend for themselves as newsboys or bootblacks.  Times were challenging, but the truly visionary found ways to make a difference in children’s lives.

As the Children’s Aid Society and the New York Foundling Hospital cared for increasing numbers of infants, Charles Loring Brace saw opportunities for the children.  He knew that families in the western United States could take these children in, offering a wholesome atmosphere unheard of in the city.  And so ran the “orphan trains” from New York to points west, over the course of decades carrying more than 200,000 children ever to take place on American soil.  The incredible journey for these children of the train belongs exclusively to those who rode the rails from the East Coast, particularly New York, to all points west across America to find new family homes.

Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York collects stories of children who faced nearly insurmountable odds.  From agonizing letters written by desperate mothers to news stories of the latest train or of newsboys looking out for each other, the humanity of individuals caught up in the sweep of history is unmistakable.