Orphan Trains Brought 10,000 Children to Iowa


Single Day Event: Thursday, Nov. 1; 10 AM-Noon

Location: Plymouth United Church of Christ

Cost: $12

Class Limit: 60


Poverty, homelessness, overcrowding and other factors among east coast cities led to the transporting of more than 200,000 children to new homes across North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including 10,000 to Iowa. While some children were selected by adults who gave them loving homes, others were not as fortunate. Since there was often a stigma attached to having been an orphan train rider, many chose to bury this part of their pasts. Stories of individual orphan train children, as told by either the riders or their descendants, bring this page of our history to life.


Instructor Carol Bodensteiner received a BA in speech and English education at the University of Northern Iowa and an MA in mass communications from Drake. For an article published in the Iowan Magazine, Carol delved into the orphan train history. She drew from her childhood to write Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl (2008) and adopted some of that same research for her novel Go Away Home (2014), set in pre-World War II Iowa.




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