Related Books and Movies

These and other titles are available through the shared catalog of the Cooperative Information Network:
“Orphan Trains: The story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed” by Stephen O’Connor: Nonfiction. A powerful blend of history, biography, and adventure, “Orphan Trains” fills a grievous gap in the American story. Tracing the evolution of the Children’s Aid Society, this dramatic narrative tells the fascinating tale of one of the most famous — and sometimes infamous — child welfare programs: the orphan trains, which spirited away some 250,000 abandoned children into the homes of rural families in the Midwest.
“The Orphan Trains : Placing Out in America” by Marilyn Irvin Holt: Nonfiction. Holt carefully analyzes the system, initially instituted by the New York Children’s Aid Society in 1853, tracking its imitators as well as the reasons for its creation and demise. She captures the children’s perspective with the judicious use of oral histories, institutional records, and newspaper accounts.
“Tears on Paper: The History and Life Stories of the Orphan Train Riders” compiled by Patricia J. Young and Frances E. Marks: Nonfiction.
Children and Teens
“Orphan Trains: Taking Rails to a New Life” by Rebecca Langston-George: Nonfiction. More than 120,000 orphans were placed with Midwestern families during the 19th Century thanks to the Orphan Train movement and the Children’s Aid Society. With extensive research, real photos, and carefully crafted narrative nonfiction, Orphan Trains tells the stories of seven of those children. For ages 9-12.
“We Rode the Orphan Trains” by Andrea Warren: Nonfiction. Stories of some of the orphan train riders, including those of Betty, who found a fairy tale life in a grand hotel; Nettie Evans and her twin, Nellie, who were rescued from their first abusive placement and taken in by a new, kindhearted family who gave them the love they had hoped for; brothers Howard and Fred, who remained close even though they were adopted into different families; and Edith, who longed to know the secrets of her past.
“Aggie’s Home” by Joan Lowery Nixon. Fiction. Aggie Mae Vaughn is 12 years old in 1866, and she lives in the Asylum for Homeless Waifs in New York City. Aggie hates being called a waif almost as much as she hates the orphanage, where she’s always in trouble. Now she’s going west on the orphan train, and she doesn’t know what to expect.
“Orphan Train Rider: One Boy’s True Story” by Andrea Warren. Young Adult Nonfiction.
Nettie and Nellie Crook: Orphan Train Sisters” by Susan Hill writing as E.F. Abbott with illustrations by Clint Hansen: Fiction.
“Orphan Train” by Verla Kay, illustrations by Ken Stark. Easy fiction.
“American Experience: The Orphan Trains”: The PBS program relates the experience of the more than 100,000 children removed from eastern slums and placed with families in the Midwest between 1854 and 1929.
“West by Orphan Train” A film by Colleen Bradford Krantz & Clark Kidder: A documentary produced in association with Iowa Public Television.