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by Andrea Warren

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-618-11712-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

From 1854 to 1930, more than 200,000 orphaned or abandoned boys and girls were cleaned up, dressed in new clothes, and turned over to the custody of the agents of the Children’s Aid Society. These groups of children traveled on “orphan trains” and arrived at the towns of the Midwest and South with the expectation that they would be placed in loving homes. In this companion volume to the award winning Orphan Train Rider: One Boy’s True Story (1996), Warren smoothly recounts seven more stories gathered from interviews and archival research. After a short introduction, she describes the hardship of the neglected and abused children and then the simple plan of finding homes in the West for “homeless children.” Warren begins with the account of Clara Comstock, a former schoolteacher who as an agent made more than 72 trips on the orphan trains. The subjects, now in their late 70s to 90s, look back to their common experiences. Often no one told them why they were going on a train or what was happening; some had happy endings; still others fared not so well. Each chapter has a similar format: one train rider’s story—earliest memories, the departure and train ride, being trouped out in front of strangers, being chosen, what happened their first day of placement, what happened to their siblings, visits from the agents, and the search for their origins. Generously illustrated with black-and-white photographs of people and places as well as reproductions of original source material. As fascinating as the original and a worthy sequel. (index, sources) (Nonfiction. 9-12)