America's Future is not affiliated with any orphanage or orphanage association.
Anyone interested in the history of a particular orphanage/orphan should contact the secretary of state in the capital city of the state in which the orphanage was located,
or the bishop of the archdiocese in which it was located.

The True History Of Orphanages

by F.R. Duplantier

Orphanages filled a void in America for more than a hundred years -- until meddling do-gooders decided that these benevolent institutions were inhumane!

"In the colonial era small children without parents were taken in by relatives or cared for informally by neighbors; older children were indentured to a master who would teach them a trade," observes Marvin Olasky in the May issue of Philanthropy, Culture & Society, published by the Capital Research Center. "Apprenticeship bore no stigma since it was common to send a child at 13 or so into another person's home for training or education; all who had hands capable of work were expected to use them at an early age." As of 1800, there were no more than seven institutions in America for parentless children.

"The number of orphanages grew throughout the first half of the nineteenth century largely in connection with an outpouring of evangelical benevolence," says Olasky. "Every epidemic . . . created orphans and new orphanage efforts; by 1850 there were between 71 and 77. Individual and church contributions paid most of the cost, but it was not unusual to have municipalities pay up to a third, and for expenses to be held down through some work by the orphans themselves. The Civil War greatly expanded demand for orphanages, and the supply skyrocketed to over 600 by 1880. Character as well as quantity changed, however," says Olasky, noting that "in the late 1800s children of destitute single parents increasingly found their way to orphanages."

What was life like in these institutions? "Orphanage directors during the second half of the nineteenth century saw their mission as not merely furnishing basic material needs but creating model American citizens," says Olasky. "They tried to instill virtues such as thrift, self-reliance, and sobriety, and to create a capacity for hard work; they believed in busy daily routines and strict discipline."

By 1910, there were more than 100,000 children in American orphanages. "The word 'orphanage' itself became a misnomer," says Olasky, "as children of parents who were still living but had problems with finances or alcohol found the institutions safer and better than life at home. Yet, even though the quality of care was evident to observers, reporting of orphanages started to turn negative in tone. Much of the criticism had an ideological tinge, portraying [these benevolent institutions] as materially satisfactory but psychologically inhumane."

As often happens, yellow journalism set the stage for government intervention. "Two White House Conferences on the Care of Dependent Children, in 1909 and 1919, bent in an anti-orphanage direction," observes Olasky; they concluded that "single mothers were to receive financial aid so children could stay at home, and orphans or those completely abandoned should be placed in foster care." The states soon took over the task that orphanages had performed. The evidence seems to indicate, however, that children were better off before the government intervened.

America's Future is not affiliated with any orphanage or orphanage association.
Anyone interested in the history of a particular orphanage/orphan should contact the secretary of state in the capital city of the state in which the orphanage was located,
or the bishop of the archdiocese in which it was located.

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Phone: 314-725-6003  Fax: 314-721-3373

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