American Experience - Season 8, Episode 4 - Rotten Tomatoes

The Orphan Trains


Episode Info

Minister Charles Loring Brace wanted to help the high number of homeless and mistreated children he was witness to throughout New York City. His remedy: relocate these children to developing rural areas in the United States in need of labor. From 1853 to 1927 under the auspices of the Children's Aid Society, over 100,000 were shipped to Texas and the Midwest, where, though sent under good intentions, were often treated as slave labor, abused, and bounced around from farm to farm. With interviews with now-grown orphans and testimony from foster parents, their stories of triumph and heartache come to light, enhanced with photographs and personal journals detailing their experience.


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