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American Experience; Orphan Trains

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American Experience
Orphan Trains
Program Number


Series Description

Premiered October 1988 As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award. Series release date: 10/1988

Program Description

In the mid-1800s, there were 10,000 homeless children in the streets of New York. Called "street Arabs," these children of impoverished immigrants slept in stairwells, stables or on the docks. Between 1854 and 1929, the Children's Aid Society in New York and other East Coast charities sent more than 150,000 orphaned and neglected children by train to farming communities, to begin new lives in foster families. There were successes and failures, and this film recounts examples of both, but most poignant and powerful are the memories of living Orphan Train riders, remarkably elderly Americans who vividly recall their own childhood journeys to the West, 70, even 80 years ago.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “American Experience; Orphan Trains,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed March 21, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_635399600EF94AB59FF400297E6BD08E.
MLA: “American Experience; Orphan Trains.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. March 21, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_635399600EF94AB59FF400297E6BD08E>.
APA: American Experience; Orphan Trains. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_635399600EF94AB59FF400297E6BD08E
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