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As early as 1653, New York City (formerly called New Amsterdam) recognized that it needed to care for the city's minor children, widows, and orphans. The Records of this Orphans' Court have been published as "Minutes of the Orphan Masters of New Amsterdam 1655-1663" by Berthold Fernow and "The Minutes of the Orphan Masters of New Amsterdam 1663-1668" translated by Edmund B.
Many of these institutions were founded in New York City to care for destitute children of immigrants from Ireland and Russia, Germany and other eastern European countries. By 1850, New York state had 27 orphanages run by public and private funds but the problem of orphaned or abandoned children left behind roaming the streets begging for food was growing. Reform groups and wealthy benefactors set up orphanages in large buildings in lower Manhattan and provided food, clothing and shelter to children. In 1880, New York state passed a law that ended the practice of housing children in Almshouses with adults, unless they were born there.


It's not an orphanage but I didn't know where else to put this incredible database - a List of those who died while in Staten Island Quarantine May 1849 - Dec. Opened in 1828, the Almshouse cared for impoverished adults and the elderly, and children shared space with them. Free Ships' Passenger lists, family surnames, church records, military muster rolls, census records, land records and much more will help you find that elusive ancestor. If you have pop-up blockers or spyware blockers enabled, they might interfere with the valid links on this website.
Dating back to the colonial era, New York City assumed responsibility for its citizens who were destitute, sick, homeless, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. The Children's Aid Society, founded in 1854, shipped some of these children to homes in the South and West on Orphan Trains.


The city maintained an almshouse, various hospitals, and a workhouse on Blackwell's Island (now called Roosevelt Island) for the poor. Other charities – the Children’s Mission to the Children of the Destitute (Boston), the New York Juvenile Asylum, the New England Home for Little Wanderers (Boston), and the New York Foundling Hospital also followed the Children's Aid Society's example, using Orphan Trains to relocate destititute and abandoned children.



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