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ALONE IN THE WORLD by Catherine Reef

ALONE IN THE WORLD

Orphans and Orphanages in America

By Catherine Reef

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 18th, 2005
ISBN: 0-618-35670-3
Publisher: Clarion

A solid, but not stellar, volume surveys the development of orphanages in the United States from the beginning of the 19th century to their decline in the 20th. Reef capably examines the social conditions that led to the establishment of the various institutions serving the children of poverty, from orphan asylums and reformatories, to the orphan trains and settlement houses, and finally to the New Deal and A.F.D.C. The highly readable text gives readers a powerful glimpse into the living conditions of these orphans, from accommodations and clothing to playtime and school, carefully explaining the various underpinning philosophies that led to those conditions. The narrative makes effective use of primary source material ranging from individual orphanages’ histories (every asylum had an historian, it seems) to Davy Crockett and Charles Dickens; archival drawings and photographs further develop the stories (though, regrettably, the captions do not include dates or credits). Although most quoted dialogue is attributed in chapter notes, and an exhaustive bibliography is appended, glaringly absent is any hint of further reading for children whose interest has been piqued. A crying shame. (afterword, picture credits) (Nonfiction. 10-14)