NOTC Research

Requesting Information

Between 1854 and 1929, nearly 250,000 children were sent West by orphan train. While there is no comprehensive list of orphan train riders, we do have a database of approximately 7,000 orphan train riders. We are happy to share the information we do have with orphan train rider descendants and friends. If you are interested in searching our existing files and database, please fill out the form below or email info@orphantraindepot.org. This form is for information requests only. Research must be requested separately.

    Requesting Research

    If we do not currently have information on the orphan train rider you are looking for, we offer research services. We utilize public records to find information such as when a rider rode the train, which agent they travelled with, and any news articles about their placement. To request research on a rider, please print and mail the Research-Registry Form and the research fee to the address listed below. Research requests are generally completed within 3 months, but may take longer if we have a high volume of requests.

    Our current research fee is $100 per name. A minimum of 2 hours will be spent researching each name. Once the total payment of $100 (per child) is received and research is complete, we will mail you all the information we found, and add to or create a file for our records.

    No walk-in research will be conducted without prior reservation.

    To download the Research Registry Form, click here.

    Please mail completed Research Registry forms and fees to:

    National Orphan Train Complex
    PO Box 322
    Concordia, KS 66901
    OR You can pay over the phone with a credit/debit card (785) 243-4471

    Accessing American Female Guardian Society Records

    We are lucky to have many of the American Female Guardian Society’s records from their New York City orphanage, the Home for the Friendless, in our collection. These records include certificates signed by parents surrendering their children to the American Female Guardian Society and books full of detailed accounts of children’s movements within the foster system. Many of these books are available online through Family Search.

    To access the American Female Guardian Society Records through Family Search, click this link, or follow these steps:
    1. Log in or create a free account on Family Search.
    2. Select “Search” along the top menu bar.
    3. Select “Images” from the Search drop down menu, or from the secondary top menu bar.
    4. Fill in the following information in the search fields:
    Place – New York City, New York, United States (1898-Present)
    Life Event – Legal
    Record Type – Orphanage Records

    Images can be downloaded from Family Search, and can be attached to family trees in Family Search.