National Orphan Train Complex

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National Orphan Train Complex
Orphan train research helps find foster children between 1853 and 1930 who rode trains from New York City, Boston, or Chicago to new homes in other states or Canada. The genealogy of many of these 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children can often be traced back to the Children's Aid Society, or the New York Foundling Hospital, among others.
Orphan Train Museum at the Union Pacific Railroad station, grand opening in 2007 at Concordia, Kansas.
Orphan Train Museum at the Union Pacific Railroad station, grand opening in 2007 at Concordia, Kansas.

Children were placed throughout the United States and Canada.

Many children rode the train to the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, or Texas where they were "placed" with families.

See Family History Research Wiki articles on each state's: Adoption, Vital Records, or Emigration and Immigration articles.

Contact Information[edit | edit source]



National Orphan Train Complex
300 Washington St.
PO. Box 322
Concordia, KS 66901

Telephone:[1]  785-243-4471

Hours and holidays:[1]  

Tuesday thru Friday: 10:00am-Noon, and 1:00pm-4:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am-4:00pm
Closed:  Sunday, Monday, and all national holidays

Directions:  Google Map

Internet sites and databases:

Collection Description[edit | edit source]

The National Orphan Train Museum and Research Center (a.k.a. Complex) collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate knowledge about the orphan trains, the children and the agents who rode them.[2] This includes the history of the orphan train movement, and the stories of the children, photos, artifacts, and an archival collection. Also, they maintain a rider registry, a speakers' bureau, and the organization's online news.

NOTC has 66 volumes of orphan train rider records of the American Female Guarding Society (AFGS), photos, about 20,000 rider records, 9,700 names in computer databases, and Internet access to[3]

Tips[edit | edit source]

  • Please contact Amanda Wahlmeier, curator, before visiting so she can see if NOTC archives have records of your person.
  • NOTC charges $20 for their research resources.
  • General admission: $5.00 Adults;  $3.00 Children under 12;  $4.00 Group rate for 10 or more people.[1]

Alternate Repositories[edit | edit source]

If you cannot visit or find a source at the National Orphan Train Complex, a similar source may be available at one of the following.

Overlapping Collections

  • Children's Aid Society, NYC, archives searches ($) for adoptions, and orphan train riders.
  • New York Foundling Hospital, can do records research for close relatives only of placed-out children.
  • National Archives I, Washington DC, census, pre-WWI military service & pensions, passenger lists, naturalizations, passports, bounty land, homesteads, ethnic sources, prisons, fed employees.[4]
  • National Archives at Kansas City federal censuses 1790–1930; military service indexes, pension indexes, passenger lists, naturalizations, photos, vital records, land, and Indian records.[5]
  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City, 450 computers, 3,400 databases, 2.5 million microforms, 4,500 periodicals, 310,000 books of worldwide family and local histories, censuses, civil, church, immigration, ethnic, military, and records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[6]

Neighboring Collections

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Related Websites[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 General Information at National Orphan Train Complex, Inc. (accessed 25 September 2012).
  2. NOTC Home at National Orphan Train Complex, Inc. (accessed 26 September 2012).
  3. Amanda Wahlmeier, Orphan Train Research Center curator,, 28 September 2012, e-mail to David Dilts,
  4. William Dollarhide, and Ronald A. Bremer, America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1988), 2. WorldCat 39493985; FHL Book 973 J54d.
  5. Dollarhide and Bremer, 67.
  6. Dollarhide and Bremer, 1 and 109.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 9th ed. (Logan, Utah: Everton Pub., 1999), 144. WorldCat 812163213; FHL Book 973 D27e 1999.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Alice Eichholz, ed., Ancestry's Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Pub., 2004), 234. Ancestry digital copy ($); WorldCat 55947869; FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Dollarhide and Bremer, 47.
  10. Topeka Genealogical Society Library in Topeka Genealogical Society (accessed 4 February 2016).
  11. Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Shawnee County (accessed 8 February 2016).
  12. KDHE Office of Vital Statistics in Kansas Department of Health and Environment (accessed 4 February 2016).
  13. Midwest Genealogy Center in Mid-Continent Public Library (accessed 7 March 2014).
  14. Dollarhide and Bremer, 47 and 67.
  15. Special Collections in Kansas City Public Library (accessed 7 March 2014).