Orphan train research helps find foster children between 1853 and 1930 who rode trains from New York City, Boston, or Chicago to new homes in other states or Canada. The genealogy of many of these 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children can often be traced back to the Children's Aid Society, or the New York Foundling Hospital, among others.
| National Orphan Train Complex
Orphan Train Museum at the Union Pacific Railroad station, grand opening in 2007 at Concordia, Kansas.
Children were placed throughout the United States and Canada.
Many children rode the train to the Midwest: Illinois, Indian, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, or Texas were they were "placed" with families.
See Family History Research Wiki articles on each state's: Adoption, Vital Records, or Emigration and Immigration articles.
- National Orphan Train Complex
- 300 Washington St.
- PO. Box 322
- Concordia, KS 66901
Hours and holidays:
- Tuesday thru Friday: 10:00am-Noon, and 1:00pm-4:00pm
- Saturday: 10:00am-4:00pm
- Closed: Sunday, Monday, and all national holidays
Directions: Google Map
Internet sites and databases:
- National Orphan Train Complex Internet site: history, rider stories, events, news, rider registry, research, FAQs, educational material, and national speakers bureau.
- Orphan train research facilities addresses and links in New York, New England, and Nebraska.
- State orphan train groups in AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, LA, MN, MO, NY, TX, and, WI.
The National Orphan Train Museum and Research Center (a.k.a. Complex) collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate knowledge about the orphan trains, the children and the agents who rode them. This includes the history of the orphan train movement, and the stories of the children, photos, artifacts, and an archival collection. Also, they maintain a rider registry, a speakers' bureau, and the organization's online news.
NOTC has 66 volumes of orphan train rider records of the American Female Guarding Society (AFGS), photos, about 20,000 rider records, 9,700 names in computer databases, and Internet access to Ancestry.com.
- Please contact Amanda Wahlmeier, curator, before visiting so she can see if NOTC archives have records of your person.
- NOTC charges $20 for their research resources.
- General admission: $5.00 Adults; $3.00 Children under 12; $4.00 Group rate for 10 or more people.
If you cannot visit or find a source at the National Orphan Train Complex, a similar source may be available at one of the following.
- Children's Aid Society, NYC, archives searches ($) for adoptions, and orphan train riders.
- New York Foundling Hospital, can do records research for close relatives only of placed-out children.
- National Archives I, Washington DC, census, pre-WWI military service & pensions, passenger lists, naturalizations, passports, bounty land, homesteads, ethnic sources, prisons, fed employees.
- National Archives at Kansas City federal censuses 1790–1930; military service indexes, pension indexes, passenger lists, naturalizations, photos, vital records, land, and Indian records.
- Family History Library, Salt Lake City, 450 computers, 3,400 databases, 2.5 million microforms, 4,500 periodicals, 310,000 books of worldwide family and local histories, censuses, civil, church, immigration, ethnic, military, and Mormon records.
- Cloud County Genealogical Society newspapers, church records, censuses, plat maps, vital records, family histories, local histories at the Frank Carlson Library.
- Cloud County Historical Society Museum has a small research collection.
- Cloud County Clerk has births, marriages, and deaths 1885-1910.
- Cloud County Register of Deeds, land records since 1867, and military discharges.
- District Court Clerk has divorce, probate, and court records since 1865. 
- Frank Carlson Library, Concordia, houses the Cloud County Genealogical Society collection.
- U.S. District Court District of Kansas, Kansas City, recent federal civil, criminal, and bankruptcy cases.
- Concordia Kansas Family History Center can offer research suggestions, and can order genealogical microfilms from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
- Repositories in surrounding counties: Clay, Jewell, Mitchell, Ottawa, Republic, and Washington.
- Iola Public Library, for all Kansas including family folders, special indexes, and published records for many counties of Kansas.
- Topeka Genealogical Society Library, 12,000 books, 700 periodicals strong on Shawnee County and northeast Kansas. Also includes almost every U.S. state, and many foreign nations.
- Wichita Public Library Genealogy Center, has many genealogies with an emphasis mostly on books, periodicals, and special publications for southeast KS, and corners of MO, AR, and OK.
- Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, clearly the best place to start researching Kansas ancestors including newspapers, county records, biographies, genealogies, land records, and railroads. Statewide births and deaths prior to 1894; City of Topeka births and deaths 1885-1912.
- Kansas State Library, Topeka, largest book library in Kansas with county histories, ethnic sources, guides, inventories, and family genealogies. This is a main depository of historical documents about Kansas residents.
- Kansas Genealogical Society, Dodge City, has the best set of family folders and genealogical periodicals in Kansas.. Also, clippings, obituaries, and an online catalog.
- Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Topeka, since 1911 births, stillbirths, deaths; since 1913 marriages; and since 1951 divorce records issued for a fee only to immediate family members or representatives.
- University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library, Lawrence, manuscripts, photographs, maps, histories, newspapers, periodicals, film and videotapes that document the "Kansas Experience" of pioneers, railroads, and American Indians. A depository for publications of Kansas and Douglas County.
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas Archives baptism, confirmations, marriages, deaths, parish records.
- Kansas United Methodist Archives, Baker University, Baldwin City, church records, newspapers, manuscripts, memoirs, obituaries, archives, reports.
- Repositories in surrounding states: Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
- Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center, Independence MO, one of America's best genealogical centers: censuses and indexes, 80,000 family histories, 100,000 local histories, 565,000 microfilms, 7,000 maps, and newspapers. Surrounding states are well represented.</ref> 
- Kansas City Public Library Missouri Valley Special Collections, The Missouri Valley Room has a great genealogy collection for Missouri and Kansas with biographies, periodicals, genealogies, diaries, photos, scrapbooks, and newspapers of the Kansas City area. 
For Further Reading
- Janet Coble, Children of orphan trains : from New York to Illinois and beyond ([Springfield, Ill.] : Illinois State Genealogical Society, 1994). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3c. Mostly a name list with placing-out details.
- Annette R. Fry, Orphan Train (New York, N.Y.: New Discovery Books, 1994). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3f. Brief history of the movement.
- Marilyn Irvin Holt, The orphan trains : placing out in America (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3h. Scholarly history of the movement.
- Mary Ellen Johnson, comp., Orphan train riders: their own stories, 6 vols. (Baltimore, Md.: Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, 1992-2007). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Fiche (v. 1) 6104624; Film (v. 5-6) 2421593 Items 2-3; Book 973 J3j. Some of the stories are second-hand.
- Clark Kidder, Orphan trains and their precious cargo : the life's work of Rev. H. D. Clarke (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 2001). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3k. Town-by-town distribution lists.
- Donna M. Nelson, La Porte's orphan train children : the children's homes, orphanages and training school of Julia E. Work (La Porte, Indiana : D. M. Nelson, 2008). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 977.291/L1 J3n. History and list of local orphanage residents.
- Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Crossroads (newsletter). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J35n. Articles about about orphan train history, rider stories, and organization news.
- Tom Riley, Orphan Train Riders : a brief history of the orphan train era (1854-1929): with entrance records from the American Female Guardian Society's Home for the Friendless in New York, 2 vols. (Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2005-2006). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3r. Mostly AFGS name lists with references to original documents.
- Andrea Warren, We rode the orphan trains (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001). At various libraries (WorldCat). Rider stories for Elementary and Junior High audiences.
- Patricia J Young, and Frances E Marks, Tears on paper : the history and life stories of the orphan train riders ([Bella Vista, Ark.] : P.J. Young ; [Idaho] : F.E. Marks, 1990). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 J3y. Rider stories.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 General Information at National Orphan Train Complex, Inc. (accessed 25 September 2012).
- ↑ NOTC Home at National Orphan Train Complex, Inc. (accessed 26 September 2012).
- ↑ Amanda Wahlmeier, Orphan Train Research Center curator, email@example.com, 28 September 2012, e-mail to David Dilts, DiltsGD@familysearch.org.
- ↑ William Dollarhide, and Ronald A. Bremer, America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1988), 2. WorldCat 39493985; FHL Book 973 J54d.
- ↑ Dollarhide and Bremer, 67.
- ↑ Dollarhide and Bremer, 1 and 109.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 9th ed. (Logan, Utah: Everton Pub., 1999), 144. WorldCat 812163213; FHL Book 973 D27e 1999.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Alice Eichholz, ed., Ancestry's Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Pub., 2004), 234. Ancestry digital copy ($); WorldCat 55947869; FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Dollarhide and Bremer, 47.
- ↑ Topeka Genealogical Society Library in Topeka Genealogical Society (accessed 4 February 2016).
- ↑ Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Shawnee County (accessed 8 February 2016).
- ↑ KDHE Office of Vital Statistics in Kansas Department of Health and Environment (accessed 4 February 2016).
- ↑ Midwest Genealogy Center in Mid-Continent Public Library (accessed 7 March 2014).
- ↑ Dollarhide and Bremer, 47 and 67.
- ↑ Special Collections in Kansas City Public Library (accessed 7 March 2014).