The Children's Aid Society of New York was the primary sending institution involved in the orphan train movement from 1853-1930 which "placed out" by railroad 200,000 orphans, abandoned, or homeless children to 48 states and Canada. In some cases they have records of birth parents.
Children's Aid Society office in the Bronx, New York.
- Children's Aid Society
- 105 East 22nd Street
- New York, NY 10010
- Re: adoption search request
Map: Google Map.
Internet sites and databases:
Archived records of the Children's Aid Society are housed at the New-York Historical Society. The CAS programs which placed children in homes outside of the city make up the bulk of the CAS collection. These records may be found in Series XI, box numbers 45-971 and volumes 362-473. Boxes 56-971 are restricted and need special permission to be viewed. Many of the volumes in this series are also restricted. Restricted volumes are noted in the container list. Most records involving specific children require special permission to be viewed. Boxes 45-971 include the case files and correspondence of foster or adopted children sent to the country, and of boys who had completed the CAS farm school program and who were then placed on farms for wages.
674.0 Linear feet (996 archival boxes; 490 bound volumes)
$25 fee for research conducted by the Children's Aids Society.
Researchers who wish to personally view restricted children's files or restricted volumes should contact the library of the New-York Historical Society (Phone: 212-873-3400; Fax: 212-595-5707; E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>). These researchers will be referred to a designated specialist from the Children's Aid Society who will interview the potential researcher to determine what he or she may consult and will then supervise the reader's use of the appropriate material. Guidelines currently in place for family history research at CAS, as determined by legal restrictions on the accessibility of adoption and foster care records, will be followed. Such researchers will follow as well the general registration procedures of the New-York Historical Society.
Researchers who wish to view open materials will register at the New-York Historical Society as Manuscript users, and be allowed access to the unrestricted materials in the collection.
Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)
- Guide to the Records of the Children's Aid Society 1836-2006 (bulk 1853-1947) MS 111 at the New-York Historical Society. This guide contains materials pertaining to emigration programs such as the Orphan Train, foster care and adoption programs operating between 1853-1947, annual reports to 2006, a small collection of materials from 1948-1951, and The Children's Aid Society lodging houses, industrial schools, convalescent homes, health centers and farm schools.
- Inskeep, Carolee R. The Children's Aid Society of New York: An Index to the Federal, State, and Local Census Records of Its Lodging Houses (1855–1925). Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield, 1996. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.71 J3i. Includes 1855, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (police census), 1900, 1905, 1910, 1915, 1920, and 1925 censuses.
If you cannot visit or find a source at the Children's Aid Society, a similar source may be available at one of the following.
- New York Historical Society houses the Children's Aid Society archives, and some New York Foundling Hospital records, both orphan train sending institutions, as well as other manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, histories, directories, maps, and photos.
- National Orphan Train Complex records of the children and agents who rode the trains, history of the orphan train movement, stories of the children, photos, artifacts, a rider registry, a speakers' bureau, and the organization's online news.
- Municipal Archives has New York City birth, death, and marriage records; the 1890 police census; city directories; voter registrations; almshouse records; and municipal government records.
- Division of Vital Records births 1910-present, and deaths 1949-present.
- Vital Records Section of the New York State Dept. of Health, Menands, NY, for outside New York City births and deaths (1881-present), and marriage licenses (1880-present). Also, all divorces since 1963.
- Courts: city, state, and federal.
- New York Public Library Genealogy Division has an outstanding collection of American history at national, state and local levels; international genealogy and heraldry in Roman alphabets; Dorot Jewish collection; photos; New York censuses, directories, and vital records.
- New York State Library, Albany, has local histories, genealogies, atlases, church, cemetery (including DAR), city directories, microfilmed newspapers, censuses, passenger lists, and periodicals.
- New York State Archives, Albany, has manuscripts, vital record indexes, land grants, maps, military, court, alien depositions, prisoners, Erie Canal passenger lists, wills, estates, and state censuses.
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, New York City has censuses, city directories, church, cemetery, Bible, land, probates, genealogy, local history, and manuscripts.