Riders On The Orphan Train Program Heads To Longview
Longview, TX (City of Longview) — The Longview Public Library is pleased to host a special program, “Riders On The Orphan Train.” The multimedia program tells the story of the Orphan Train experiment from 1854 to 1929. The program will take place in the Library’s Moeschle Room at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 21. The event is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Between 1854 and 1929, over 250,000 orphans and unwanted children were taken out of New York City and given away at train stations across America. Children were sent to every state in the continental United States. The last train went to Sulphur Springs, Texas, in 1929. This “placing out” system was originally organized by Methodist minister Charles Loring Brace and the Children’s Aid Society of New York. Brace’s mission was to rid the streets and overcrowded orphanages of homeless children and provide them with an opportunity to find new homes. Many of the children were not orphans but “surrendered” by parents too impoverished to keep them. The New York Foundling Hospital, a Catholic organization, also sent out children to be placed in Catholic homes.
This seventy-six year experiment in child relocation is filled with the entire spectrum of human emotion and reveals a great deal about the successes and failures of the American Dream.
The one-hour multimedia program combines live music by Phillip Lancaster and Alison Moore, video montage with archival photographs and interviews of survivors, and a dramatic reading from Moore’s 2012 novel, Riders on the Orphan Train by Moore. Although the program is about children, it is designed to engage audiences of all ages and to inform, inspire and raise awareness about this little-known part of history. Local relatives and acquaintances of Orphan Train Riders are especially invited to attend and share their stories with the audience.
For more information about the Longview Public Library, contact 903-237-1350 or visit www.LongviewLibrary.com
About The Performers
Alison Moore, MFA, is a former Assistant Professor of English/Creative Writing in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona and a current Humanities Scholar in Texas. She lives in Austin and completed the novel “Riders on the Orphan Train” with a fiction fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Texas Institute of Letters and the Dobie/Paisano Foundation of the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of three other books, a collection of short stories entitled “The Middle of Elsewhere” (Phoenix International/University of Arkansas Press 2006), a novel, “Synonym for Love” (Penguin/Plume, 1996) and the short fiction collection “Small Spaces between Emergencies” (Mercury House, 1992), one of the Notable Books of 1993 chosen by The American Library Association. In 2004 she received the Katherine Ann Porter Prize for Fiction.
Phil Lancaster was born in Texarkana and studied art and music at L’Ecole De Beaux Arts in Angers, France. He became a member of a bluegrass band that traveled and played throughout France and produced an album entitled “Bluegrass Oldies Ltd./Traveling Show.” He also worked as a stage theatre technician for La Coursive Theatre Nationale in La Rochelle, France. After returning to the U.S. he met three Arkansas musicians and the acoustic quartet “Still on the Hill” was formed in Fayetteville. They released their first CD in 1997, the second in 2000. The group performed at national and international festivals. In 2007 he received an Arkansas Arts Council fellowship for Music Composition. He currently lives in Austin and is a co-presenter of “Riders on the Orphan Train.” He also tours in France with musician Phillipe Charlot in the duo “Trans-Atlantique.”