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History of the National Orphan Train Movement

Introduction\r\nThe Orphan Train Movement was a supervised welfare program that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes located largely in rural areas of the Midwest. The orphan trains operated between 1854 and 1929, relocating about 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children. Charles Loring Brace, founder of the Children\''s Aid Society, decided the best way to help these children would be to take them out of the crowded eastern cities and instead put them in farming families in the Midwest. He believed by removing them from poverty, he would be able to change the fates of the children and allow them to be able to make something of their lives. Children would be transported by train from the east to the mid west where they lived and worked with farming families for free. On the route west, the orphan trains stopped in 45 states across the country. This program helped over 120,000 children and led to reforms in child labor policies, adoption and foster care policies, health care, and public education.\r\n

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