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"Boston's Wayward Children" (MA) 1989 book

"Boston's Wayward Children" (MA) 1989 book

Posted: 19 Dec 2008 1:23PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hello. I've mentioned this book in the past. I found out about it several years ago. The full title is: "Boston's Wayward Children" (Social Services for Homeless Children, 1830-1930) by Peter C. Holloran, 1989 Boston.

One description of the book says: "... thoroughly explores the origin and evolution of child welfare in the U.S. ..."

When I have mentioned it in the past, I had remembered reading that the "Orphan Train movement" started in Boston, MA. And, when NYC officials found out about it, they decided to do it. But, Boston officials only sent their "needy children" out to farms in New England, and NYC officials sent their "needy children" - out across the country !

However, I just took out the book, and the first mention of the orphan trains starts on p. 44, and you see,

"Children's Mission innovation did not stop with mite boxes, chidren's fiction, and the street worker; in 1850 the first 'orphan train' left Boston taking 30 waifs to foster homes in New Hampshire and Vermont. The directors share the belief of the BFA and Farm School that urban slums were unsuitable homes for children, but placing individual orphans as domestic servants or apprentice boys was too slow and time-consuming.

The railroads made it possible to bring large groups of homeless children from the city to rural towns where local clergy and church members would cooperate in placing them out and supervising their care. Although precise details are lacking, by 1850 Children's Mission orphan trains were used to place children on farm throughout New England. Until this practice was interrupted by the Civil War, agents took bands of 30 to 50 children by train to New England and Middle Western communities where local churches made informal indenture, apprenticeship, foster care, or adoption arrangements in respectable families. This practice became so useful that the Children's Mission Temporary Home on Trement Street orphanized 2 or 3 orphan trains each year. The New York Children's Aid Society (est. 1852 by Charles Brace.., a Congregational Minister and urban missionary) imitated this Boston child-placing method and Horatio Alger, Jr., made the New York CAS practice famous. ...... The ... saw the orphan train as a modern, economical and efficient way of removing the surplus juvenile population from the overcrowded city. Children living in slums without proper family discipline or moral training were placed in decent rural households in northern New England, upper New York State, and in under-populated Midwestern states.

Exactly why Boston children should be sent to 'the West' was never made clear. .... If the city was so unspeakably fould and dangerous, ...... (sermon) 'Boston is not large enough. You have not room here to carry out all your plans. ....

The clergyman recommended sending more orphan trains to the mid-west with larger groups of Boston children under the guidance of one or two agents. By 1859 more than 1,300 children had made the journey under Children's Mission direction. ..... If found to be willing and needy, these 'orphans' were sheltered in the Temporary Home on Tremont St. until a group of 30 to 50 children were ready to travel. .... clergymen in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin cooperated by screening prospective families who requested a child. In some cases, the children were not actually orphans, but abused, abandoned, neglected, or runaway children ........"

"About 200 chidren were placed annually by the (NYC) CAS from 1853 to 1876, and this number rose to ~3,800 annually from 1876 to 1883. Orphan trains gradually declined in the 1890's, and the practice was finally abandoned in 1929. Boys outnumbered girls 3 to 1, among those placed by the (NYC) CAS. ...."

Page 48 has a copy of "A rare letter by a child going west in 1890 on a NEHLW orphan train."

My comments:

The (U.K.) "Child Migrant Scheme" went on during the exact same time period. The "unwanted / abandoned, etc." children all over the U.K. were "shipped to Canada" between the 1830's and 1930's. In Canada, they were known as "British Home Children" or "the Little Immigrants."

And, in the book I'm discussing mentions how many "Irish immigrants" first went to the Maritime Provinces of Canada and then came down to Boston. And the ministers in Nova Scotia, etc., had to "warn" the parents that things were not perfect in Boston, either. (Lots of "Catholic" vs. "Protestant" discussions went on for many years !)

(Cheaper voyage was for Canada.)

Also, this book is "very" detailed and "very" good. And, if you "really" want to know what went on in Boston in that 1830 to 1930 time period, this book will tell you. And, the Bibliography is about 15 pages of small print. And, there are about 20 pages of "Notes" which mention documents and papers which were read (again small print).

I don't have time to look through the pages to see if there are any books mentioned about the "orphan trains coming out of Boston." If not, it might be a subject for a future book !!!

But, as I said, I remembered that the "orphan train movement" had started in Boston, and I was correct with that. Started in 1850 in Boston and 1852 in New York City. But, I had not remembered that they also sent children to "the mid-West."

In this same chapter in the book, it says that the owners of the (new) trains had some influence on this movement. They wanted more "traffic." And the people first inhabiting "the mid-West" wanted -- more people to come there, so they were an influence.

(I believe it was ~1850 when the trains first came to the Boston and Lowell, MA, area, I don't know off-hand when the trains first left Boston and went to NH, VT, and ME. And, especially Boston to NYC.)


(I'd love to find out that there were "newspaper reports" about the "child migrants" coming to Nova Scotia in the 1870's in the Boston newspapers, and the "Boston orphan train movement" in Nova Scotia newspapers.)


Betty (near Lowell, MA)


(My grandmother was at "The Temporary Home" then on Chardon St. from ~1904-1909. It started out on Tremont St.)

Re: "Boston's Wayward Children" (MA) 1989 book

Posted: 19 Sep 2010 3:28PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Joke, Jake, Seto, Johns, Parker
I have reports of my grandfather being in the " Boston Childrens Mission" and " Childrens Aid Society"
I think he was born in Boston April 16 1906 or 1907, to Ann / Annie Hendricken. an fathered by Soo hoo joke ( Chineese)
I have documents suggesting that Theodore Joke was boarded at John Upton Parker's farm in lenox Michigan 1920 ( I have a picture with 7 boys and on the back says " the boys at Parker's, with on child being my grandfather by sight! this photo coinsides witht he census of 1920 John Parker residence.) , and Soo Hoo Joke lived in Detroit Michigan 1920.
I have been told by elderly family that Theodore was not wanted by his mother and given up. so the father took him. but I do not know when he was in the Childrens aid society. or Mission. between 1906-1924? I have a newspaper article stating that in 1941-42 Theodore was reunited with his mother after he searched for his birth record, and found his parents names in the Childrens aid society records. I need to obtain these records too if possible. Do you have any suggestions for this ...
Thank you very much!! Lainie Johns Maine. Nurselainie@hotmail.com
Below you will find a link with photos of the Parker Farm boys. and other info.

http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/16545498/person/388825425
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