| 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.
- National Orphan Train Complex
- 300 Washington St.
- PO. Box 322
- Concordia, KS 66901
Hours and holidays:
- 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:
- National Orphan Train Complex Internet site: history, rider stories, events, news, rider registry, research, FAQs, educational material, and national speakers bureau.
- Orphan train research facilities addresses and links in New York, New England, and Nebraska.
- State orphan train groups in AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, LA, MN, MO, NY, TX, and, WI.
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. 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.
Admission: $5.00 Adults; $3.00 Children under 12; $4.00 Group rate for 10 or more people.
If you cannot visit or find a source at the National Orphan Train Complex, a similar source may be available at one of the following.
- National Archives Central Plains Region (Kansas City), censuses, military, pensions, naturalizations, photos, for IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD; Internet access to Ancestry, Heritage Quest, and Footnote.
- National Archives I, Washington, DC has homestead applications for Kansas.
- Family History Library, Salt Lake City, 450 computers, 3,400 databases, 3.1 million microforms, 4,500 periodicals, 310,000 books of worldwide family and local histories, censuses, civil, church, immigration, ethnic, military, and Mormon records.
- Children's Aid Society, NYC, archives searches ($) for adoptions, and orphan train riders.
- New York Foundling Hospital, can do records research for close relatives only.
- Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, has indexes, photos, letters, diaries, newspapers, maps, censuses, vital records, family histories, land records, railroads, and county place information.
- Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment, Topeka, births/deaths since 1911; marriages since 1913.
- Kansas Genealogical Society, Dodge City, 15,000 books, vital records, cemeteries, censuses, and computer databases focused mostly on Kansas.
- Topeka Genealogical Society, 10,000 books, 700 periodicals, strongest for NE Kansas and Shawnee County.
- American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Lincoln, NE, has Russian geography info, church records, civil records, maps, family histories, photos, and surname charts, newspapers, U.S. arrival lists.
- Wichita State University Library, Wichita, biography, history, law, and JSTOR.
- University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, government records, maps, newspapers, periodicals, Kansas and Douglas County history especially 1854-1861, and overland trails.
- Iola Public Library, 4000 genealogy books, 12,500 microfilms, help from genealogist volunteers, and access to HeritageQuest Online.
- Cloud County Genealogical Society newspapers, church records, censuses, plat maps, vital records, family histories, local histories at the Frank Carlson Library.
- Cloud County Historical Society Museum has a small research collection.
- Cloud County Clerk has births, marriages, and deaths 1885-1910.
- Cloud County Register of Deeds, land records.
- District Court Clerk has divorce records.
- Frank Carlson Library, Concordia, houses the Cloud County Genealogical Society collection.
- Cloud County Probate Judge has probate and court records.
For Further Reading
- Janet Coble, Children of orphan trains : from New York to Illinois and beyond ([Springfield, Ill.] : Illinois State Genealogical Society, 1994). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3c. Mostly a name list with placing-out details.
- Annette R. Fry, Orphan Train (New York, N.Y.: New Discovery Books, 1994). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3f. Brief history of the movement.
- Mary Ellen Johnson, comp., Orphan train riders: their own stories, 6 vols. (Baltimore, Md.: Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, 1992-2007). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Fiche (v. 1) 6104624; Film (v. 5-6) 2421593 Items 2-3; Book 973 J3j. Some of the stories are second-hand.
- Clark Kidder, Orphan trains and their precious cargo : the life's work of Rev. H. D. Clarke (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 2001). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3k. Town-by-town distribution lists.
- Donna M. Nelson, La Porte's orphan train children : the children's homes, orphanages and training school of Julia E. Work (La Porte, Indiana : D. M. Nelson, 2008). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 977.291/L1 J3n.
- Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Crossroads (newsletter).At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J35n. Articles about about orphan train history, rider stories, and organization news.
- Tom Riley, Orphan Train Riders : a brief history of the orphan train era (1854-1929): with entrance records from the American Female Guardian Society's Home for the Friendless in New York, 2 vols. (Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2005-2006). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3r. Mostly AFGS name lists with references to original documents.
- Andrea Warren, We rode the orphan trains (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001). At various libraries (WorldCat). Rider stories for Elementary and Junior High audience.