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November 9, 2012

Presentation to shed light on ‘orphan trains’

Estimated 1,200 New York children were sent to Texas to begin new lives

The Blinn College Historical Society will shine light on a little-known aspect of American history when it hosts a presentation called “Riders on the Orphan Train” Tuesday on the College’s Bryan campus.

Novelist and humanities scholar Alison Moore and singer/songwriter Phil Lancaster combine audio-visual elements, historical fiction and musical ballads into a collaborative performance that describes the orphan trains to a public that recalls little about this chapter in American – and Texas – history.

The presentation tells the story of the 250,000 orphans and unwanted children who were placed on trains in New York between 1854 and 1929 and sent all over the United States. An estimated 1,200 of those children came to Texas, including many who became part of families in Central Texas communities.

The presentation is comprised of original music, archival photographs and interviews with surviving orphan train riders. “Riders” also includes a dramatic recitation from Moore’s forthcoming historical novel about the orphan trains.

After the presentation, Moore and Lancaster will lead an informal discussion about the origin and demise of the largest child migration in history and the part it played in the formation of the American dream.

“Riders on the Orphan Train” has been presented in more than 200 museums, libraries and schools in Arkansas, Texas and Arizona.

Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend. The presentation will be held from 6-8 p.m. in the Barbara L. Pearson Banquet Room inside the Student Center Building (map).
For more information, contact History Instructor Darren Pierson at or 979-209-7315.