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Orphan Train Webquest

Orphan Train Webquest Directions and research Links

Orphan Trains project part 1 - Webquest

Introduction: The Orphan Train is an often overlooked episode in American History. The orphan trains were run by the Children's Aid Society of New York City, founded and funded by Charles Loring Brace in 1854 and they ran until 1930. This program was controversial, and while some children went on to lead satisfying, productive lives in rural America, others weren't so lucky. But, in spite of their shortcomings, the orphan trains paved the way for today's foster-care program. In this webquest, you will venture into the lives of these forgotten orphans and learn about their interesting lives.


Directions:  Create a Power Presentation in Google Slides or a poster project that answers the following questions:

  •  Who was Charles Loring Brace?
  •  What was the Children’s Aid Society?
  •  What was the New York Foundling Hospital?
  •  How and why did they come to place children from eastern cities with families in the west?
  •  What were the circumstances of the children?
  •  Were they all orphans?
  •  What were the experiences of the children?
  •  Were there other groups or individuals involved in the placement program? 
  •  Was the program well received everywhere?
  •  How did the program come to end?
  •  Any other information you feel is relevant.


Research Links:

Orphan Train facts from


Links from the National Orphan Train Complex, a museum in Kansas:

Lost Children – Riders on the Orphan Train


What Were the Orphan Trains?


Orphan Trains of Kansas (Stories, history, timeline, graphics)


Interactive Map