‘Riders on the Orphan Train’ to be presented as part of Fanfare Oct. 28

Thursday, October 16, 2014 Orphan Train
by:  Rene Abadie

RIDERS OF THE ORPHAN TRAIN – Homeless children from the Northeast line up in front of a railcar as they wait to be transported to find new homes in other parts of the United States. From 1854 to 1929, the so-called Orphan Train transported approximately 250,000 children from the New York to provide them new opportunities.

HAMMOND – The highly acclaimed multi-media presentation "Riders on the Orphan Train," will be presented at Southeastern Louisiana University in a free public showing on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 5 p.m. in the Teacher Education Center KIVA auditorium.

An earlier showing will be held that day for Southeastern Lab School students and university students. The 5 p.m. public showing is limited to 300 people on a first come, first serve basis.

The program chronicles the story between 1854 and 1929 when more than a quarter-million orphans and unwanted children were taken from New York City and given away at train stations across America. It is considered the beginning of the foster care system in the United States.

The presentation is a part of the university's annual Fanfare celebration of the arts, humanities and social sciences. It is being sponsored by the Library of Congress, which funds the Teaching with Primary Sources Program at Southeastern, the university's Department of Teaching and Learning, and the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center in Concordia, Kan.

"Orphan Train" is presented by novelist and scholar Alison Moore, author of the book "Riders on the Orphan Train." She collaborates with singer/songwriter Phil Lancaster in the production which combines audiovisual elements, historical fiction and musical ballads into a performance that helps bring the movement into public awareness.

"The 'Orphan Train' is a little known period of American history when the idea was conceived to rid New York of thousands of homeless street children and provide them with an opportunity to find new homes in the developing Midwest," explained Cindy Elliott, head of the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education. "This story about child migration is filled with horror stories and some happy endings."

Elliott said that more than 1,900 children from the New York Foundling Hospital were sent to Opelousas in south central Louisiana to meet new families and begin their new lives. Members of the Louisiana Orphan Train Society are expected to be present.

For more information, contact the Department of Teaching and Learning at 985-549-2221.



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