The Orphan Train Era: Why was there an Orphan Train?

Thursday, October 22 at 7:00pm
Register online for this Zoom program or call 734-453-0750 ext 4 and the zoom login information will be emailed to you.

Al & Dave EicherAl and Dave Eicher, research historians and television producers have created a lecture presentation, “THE ORPHAN TRAIN ERA” which answers the “why?” questions about the Orphan Train in America.

In the year of 2000, they discovered records of Orphan Train Riders in Michigan. By 2001, with the help of the New York Children’s Aid Society and the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America they were able to Children's aid societyreport 12,500 children were placed in Michigan between 1854 and 1927. Al and Dave in the past years have given over 200 presentation to Libraries, Historical Societies and Colleges on this event in Michigan’s History. To this day, the big questions “Why was there an Orphan Train in America”, “Why were so many children abandoned by their parents” and “Why were 240,000 children placed in 46 other States”?

These questions are answered in this new presentation “THE ORPHAN TRAIN ERA”. The story begins in Europe with the Napoleonic Wars, cholera epidemics, the Potato famine and Civil War unrest in Europe. Masses of Europeans then migrated to America, New York City being the preferred destination.

This presentation portrays the conditions of steamship travel, the adventures of an Irish boy, NYC in the
1860’s, the Irish Ward and Little Italy. Archival photos and films show the orphaned child’s life in the city, the various child labor jobs and sleeping in tenement “daily lodging” for 7 cents a night. This presentation will have an emotional impact on audiences, young and old. Fortunately, for the orphans, there was the Children’s Aid Society of New York and their founder’s ideas for saving these children and finding homes across America which resulted in the Orphan Train.

For additional information related to this presentation, including a list of books, articles, Michigan towns that received Orphan Riders, and more, download The Orphan Train in Michigan lecture handouts.

Watch a sneak peek of “Orphan Train in Michigan”.