Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Orphan Trains A Missed Part Of My American History


Do you have Train Riders in your family tree?


Christina Baker Kline's novel Orphan Train has captured my undivided attention recently. The book is sad and funny, thoughtful, scary and poignant. However, the emotion that I feel more than anything is disbelief.

An estimated 250,000 thousand children were placed on trains, from the east coast, and sent west to their new home and families. I had no idea so many children were placed and, from what I understand, the orphans would be shocked at that number as well. Their worlds did not extend past the train they were on. They had no knowledge that so many other children were facing the same journey as themselves.





I had seen advertisements for Orphan Train on Amazon and heard snippets of conversations about it here and there and was mildly curious. It wasn't until I heard an interview with the author on the GenealogyGems Podcast that I sat up and took notice. The book is good, very good. It's a novel based on research of actual train rider stories.


Could I have train riders in my family?


I immediately started wondering about my family. Do I have any unknowns? Any individuals that may have simply appeared or were born in a state different from the rest of the family? Do I have any known family members that were said to be adopted during that time frame? I do. 

I have research to do and have found several resources to get me started.



  1. National Orphan Train Complex
  2. Orphan Trains of Nebraska
  3. Kansas Orphan Train Timeline
  4. Orphan Train Bibliographies
  5. A History of the Orphan Trains

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