Library News

By: Virginia Volkman
For: Red Rock News
Date: January 23, 2015

Program Brings Alive the History of the Orphan Trains

Sedona is fortunate to have been chosen to host a special program on Saturday, January 31, at 7:00 p.m. in the Si Birch Community Room. The Arizona Humanities Council has funded a 5-city tour of the multi-media program “Riders on the Orphan Train” in January and February. Public libraries in Yuma, Quartzite, Florence, and Patagonia are the other selected sites.

We’re delighted to host the one-hour multi- media program which combines live music by Phil Lancaster and Alison Moore, video montage with archival photographs and interviews of survivors, and a dramatic reading of the 2012 novel “Riders on the Orphan Train” by award-winning author Alison Moore. Especially featured will be a recounting of the Clifton, AZ controversy.

In 1904 a group of twenty-one Irish children came to Clifton from the New York Foundling Hospital and the ensuring confrontation over stewardship of these children became a state and national controversy in racial and class conflict and is a poignant illustration of the disparities between the East Coast and the developing West at the turn of the last century.

“Riders on the Orphan Train” is designed to inform, inspire and raise awareness about this little-known part of history. The presentation was originally developed as an outreach program for The Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Inc. and is currently the official outreach program for the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center in Concordia, KS. Seventeen years of touring have provided the presenters with many true stories of Orphan Train Riders and their descendants.

Local relatives and acquaintances of Orphan Train Riders are especially invited to attend and share their stories with the audience.

I’m looking forward to learning more about this period between 1854 and 1929 when over 250,000 orphans and unwanted children were taken out of New York City. The children were transported to their new homes on trains that were labeled “orphan trains” and they were given away at train stations across America. Children were sent to every state in the continental United States; the last train went to Sulphur Springs, Texas in 1929.

This “placing out” system was originally organized by Methodist minister Charles Loring Brace and the Children’s Aid Society of New York. His mission was to rid the streets and overcrowded orphanages of homeless children and provide them with an opportunity to find new homes. Many of the children were not orphans but “surrendered” by parents too impoverished to keep them. The New York Foundling Hospital, a Catholic organization, also sent out children to be placed in Catholic homes. This seventy-six year experiment in child relocation is filled with the entire spectrum of human emotion and reveals a great deal about the successes and failures of the American Dream.

Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The land on which our beautiful library sits was donated, and the library building was constructed with private funds and is entirely debt-free. Donations and grants allow us to continue to offer free and innovative services to residents and visitors. Your tax-deductible donation may be sent to: Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336.

Sedona Public Library is located at 3250 White Bear Road in West Sedona. Library hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sedona Public Library in the Village is located at 7000 Highway 179, Suite D-100, in the courtyard of Tequa Plaza. Library hours in the Village are Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You may call the main Library at 928.282.7714 and SPL-V at 928.284.1603 for more information about exhibits and services that we offer.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is also presented on Sedona Biz.
Virginia Volkman is Library Director of the Sedona Public Library.