Welcome to the Orphan's Home Website
  Welcome! a single rose

My name is Cindy Kanny and I will be your host for this site.  The site is brand new as of February 10, 2001 and will be under construction for some time yet to come.  Your patience will be greatly appreciated.  If you do not find what you are looking for your first time here,  please stop back again at a later date.  Also, please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have.  For your convenience, you will find a Feedback and Comments form in the Gen-Office as well as here, and my e-mail address on the Orphans' Home Page.

In the paragraphs below, I outline the purpose of this site, give a rough overview of the orphan experience (with some of its consequences for ancestral research) for those not familiar with it,  extend an invitation for all genealogists to con-
tribute, highlight a few features at this site, and,  render an attempt at a site map.


About This Site

This website is dedicated to all those children ever labeled as "orphans,"  with the added hope that they will never be forgotten.  These children grappled with overwhelming difficulties and took their places in our communities:  they fought in our nations' wars, held many of the jobs, and built their families despite those difficulties.  For those I have encountered (both directly and indirectly) that would sooner forget the orphans,  there have been many others who have helped to preserve the orphans' histories and stories.  To the latter of these people, this site is also dedicated.

It is the purpose at this site to aid genealogists with ancestral orphans by providing transcriptions of all orphan listings as found in both the U.S. and Canadian censuses,  as many orphan links and books as can be found, and, two message boards: one for genealogist-descendants of orphans to post queries, and one for former orphans themselves to post memories of their orphanage and/or experiences as an orphan.   All orphans, orphan experts, and researchers as well are encouraged to participate.  In addition, if anyone reading this knows of a link or a book not yet listed in the Computer Room or Library,  feel free to contact me with the information for inclusion at this site.  For your ease, special forms have been created for adding a link,  and for adding a reference and can be found both here, and in the Gen-Office (2nd Floor, left).

For those of you not familiar with ancestral orphan research,  I give a rough overview in the paragraphs that follow.  This information has come to me over the past year from librarians, other website owners, employees in various state governments and agencies, archivists, personal reading, orphans themselves with whom I have come in contact, and descendants of orphans, like myself, who are now trying to piece their family trees together.  This information is not meant to cover all situations, but to merely familiarize those genealogists without ancestral orphans (and/or those just beginning their research) with the problems that may confront orphan genealogists.

Quite a number of genealogists know the name of the orphanage in which their ancestor(s) stayed; many do not.  Some researchers do not even know, for certain, the state or province or other locality in which their ancestor grew up.  Many American orphans actually arrived here from Canada, particularly those in New York and along the northern US border.  In general,  orphans were treated as second-class citizens.  They were either hired out or placed in families as servants or laborers.  As a result,  many orphans,  quite understandably,  never shared their childhood memories with their descendants.  For this reason,  a collection of transcriptions of all orphan listings from the censuses can be invaluable for genealogists just starting the quest for information regarding his/her orphaned ancestor.

The reasons for children being admitted into an orphanage were varied.  Some of the children were,  no doubt,  abandoned  (with or without the knowledge of other family members),  others were taken from the family by the state.  Some were placed in an orphanage due to being born out of wedlock, or when one or both parents died,  and either extended family members could not (or would not) care for the child, or simply were either not known by the participants or were not around.  For example,  children, whose parents died en route to the U.S. or Canada,  were not sent back to the country of origin but were placed in orphanages.  Other orphanages formed to house children orphaned by one or another of our nation's wars.

Most of the children were placed when the parents could not provide for their children either financially or emotionally,  or both.  In fact,  many of the parents always intended to reclaim their children but never got to the point where they could, or died before they could.  Some of these parents were institutionalized elsewhere themselves.  A good number of children were in fact reclaimed and consequently spent a relatively short time in an orphanage.  Other orphans were never placed in an orphanage but were taken to one of the local poorhouses.  It is for this reason that transcriptions of Poorhouses will be included at this site as well.

Orphans were never put up for adoption by either or both parents.  Whereas some orphans never knew any members of their natural family,  it was,  in fact,  a fairly frequent situation for the orphaned child to have known one parent,  or both,  or some other member of his/her birth or extended family.  It is true that a small number of orphans were eventually adopted.  For the most part,  these adoptions were granted to members of that child's extended family, or in instances where both parents were known to be deceased.  This being the case,  orphan records are not "closed" records.  In fact, historically, as orphanages began to close their doors as orphanages, the people running these institutions believed that, in time, others would want to view those records.  Because of this,  they tried to place the records in the holdings of archives local to that orphanage but the archives would not take them.  As a result, some of the records are now harder to track down, and, no doubt in other cases, the records were eventually destroyed.  Whereas some of these orphanages tried very hard to have those records preserved,  it is also the case that some of the older orphanages did not keep records at all (including birth dates) and some who did,  did not report for the censuses.  Fortunately, these latter cases appear to be in the minority and such practices, no doubt, would not be allowed to occur today.

An Invitation to All Genealogists

I would like to take the opportunity, here, to invite all genealogists to visit,  peruse the lists,  and participate in contributing to this site.  For reasons addressed in the "About this Site" section, directly above,  a listing of all US and Canadian orphans together in one place can be very helpful, if not crucial, to the successful research of those genealogists with ancestral orphans.  To my knowledge,  such a listing has not been done before (if anyone knows differently, please contact me).  Hopefully, the concern of genealogists for the preservation and accessibility of records combined with the capabilities of the internet, such a collection will now be much easier to achieve.

The total number of orphans is staggering, to say the least.  It is also the case, that not all orphans became orphans with the awareness of other family members.  Should any of you without currently known ancestral orphans happen upon the name of an orphan you suspect might be a part of your own tree, please feel free to submit such a post to the Ancestral Orphan's Message Board as well.

This site is opening for business with barely a handful of transcribed lists, and only two volunteers.  There is much work to be done in this regard and the help of all genealogists,  with or without ancestral orphans in their trees,  will be greatly appreciated.  All contributions will be acknowledged on-site, including e-mail links and website links for those of you owning your own site.

Apart from those who decide to become a Volunteer (explained below),  the organization of the Orphans' Home Website is such that, for most, contributing -- whether it be contribution of a list (transcribed or xeroxed), or even just a citation of an orphan listing -- is designed to involve minimal time, effort, and expense on the part of the contributor.

Known census citations for orphan listings can be found in the "Notepad" section of the Gen-Office.  A link for the Notepad is also provided on the Orphans' Home Page.  Feel free to print out your state's citations and take a copy with you to the library.  Alternatively,  if you should come across a citation while conducting your own research,  do not have time to xerox or transcribe the list,  you may e-mail the citation  to me and I will post it with the cites already listed.

Again,  all volunteers and contributors will be given credit accordingly for whatever efforts are made. For more information re contributing,  and volunteering,  please visit the Gen-Office where these topics are outlined in more detail.

Additionally,  if you find your ancestor(s) in any of the listings and would like to have an e-mail/website link attached to your ancestral name(s),  and/or a short bio,  even information regarding their orphanage of residence,  please let me know and I will be glad to set this up for you.

Site Features

A number of features at this site worthy of special identification are described in the paragraphs below:

  • Orphan Listings in Canadian Censuses:  Many orphans crossed the northern border separating the United States and Canada. These crossings occurred in either direction,  i.e., from Canada to the United States and from the United States to Canada. For this reason, Canadian census orphan listings will also be included at this site. The Canadian censuses differ from those in the US in that orphans are not listed as "orphans." In Canada, these children were listed as "strays", "servants", "laborers", and can be found in workhouse listings as well as in individual households.

  • Inclusion of Poorhouses in transcriptions:  Historically a sizeable number of orphans were placed in the nation's Poorhouses instead of being placed in an orphanage.  In order not to miss these children all such Poorhouse listings will also be included at this site.

  • The Difference Between Volunteers and Contributors:  A Contributor is one who contributes a list or citation on a one-time basis or occasionally.  A Volunteer is someone who offers to be on hand to help transcribe lists or volunteers to help in some other way on a longer term or more continuing basis.  Please visit the Gen-Office for more details.

  • The Gen-Office & Notepad: Any one wishing to volunteer or to contribute a list or citation, will find the forms and instructions necessary for doing so in this room of the Orphans' Home.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions,  need further clarification,  or if you plan to obtain any of the lists cited.  This will enable me to prevent duplicate submissions.  Reading and following the rather brief instructions will prevent submission of lists not acceptable for uploading.  Forms for submitting suggestions, adding a link or book, reporting a broken link or bad cite, requesting addition of an ancestor's bio, and all other forms used at this site are also found in this room of the Orphans' Home.  All special announcements regarding future plans will be posted in the Gen-Office and visitors will find linked buttons to all areas of the site as well.

  • The Notepad: Known census citations,  listed by state and year for orphan listings will be posted in this area of the Gen-Office.  Please feel free to print out your state's citations and take a copy with you to the library.  Alternatively,  if you should come across a citation while conducting your own research,  do not have time to xerox or transcribe the list,  please
    e-mail the citation  to me for inclusion.  I will be glad to post it with the others.  You will receive credit for any census citation you send in that has not already been posted.  (The form for submitting census citations can also be found in the Gen-Office as well as on this page where you are currently).

  • The Message Board Room: Two message boards will be found in this room of the Orphans' Home.  The "Ancestral Orphans Message Board (AOMB), is for descendants of orphans (and, of course, orphans themselves, and any one knowledgeable regarding orphans, orphan research, or any of the orphanages) to post messages.  The second board, the "Orphan Memories Message Board (OMMB) is for former orphans to post memories they wish to share with those of us in the genealogical community, should you feel inclined to do so.  Please Note: Both boards are for ancestral orphan research only.  No current-day adoption inquiries by either adoptees and/or their birth families will be allowed.  All such postings will be deleted.  There are many other sites and places on the internet where such postings can be made.  Links to a number of these sites can be found, as a courtesy, in the Orphans' Computer Room under "Adoption Links."  Thanks in advance for your cooperation!

  • The Computer Room and Libary: The Computer Room is where users will find orphan and genealogy-related links.  This room will always be under construction, but the main categories (at least, at this time) are: US Orphan Links, Canadian Orphan Links, Orphan Links from Around the World, More Orphan Links, Genealogy Links, and Adoption Links.  The Library, of course, is the Orphans' Home's collection of orphan/orphanage related books and references.  I have many more sources to add to each of these rooms but please notify me of links or books not yet listed that you feel ought to be included.

  • What's News Room: This is where users will find the general updates made periodically to this site.  Updates that will be posted here will include new states for which orphan transcriptions have been uploaded and additions to states already on site.  Any new site features added will be noted here as well.  Graphics Credits updates will also be listed here for those interested in such things.

Site Map

The Orphans' Home on the front, or homepage, is fully linked.  If you allow your cursor to rest on any of the windows or on the door,  a pop-up menu will appear telling you what to expect in that area of the home.  For those who need one,  you will find below a "blueprint" of The Orphans' Home as it appears on the home page and, below the blueprint, you will find a short paragraph describing what kinds of links and information anyone can expect in the tables on the frontpage beneath the Orphans' Home:

The Orphans' Home as seen on the homepage
What's News Room
3d Fl,left

Dedication Room
3d floor, center

Drawing Room
3d floor, right

Gen-Office and Notepad
2d Fl, left

The Library
2d Fl,
left ctr

Computer Room
2d Fl,
right ctr

Message Board Room
2d Fl, right

Canadian Census Room,
1st Fl, left

You are HERE.
1st Fl, center

US Census Room
1st Fl, right

Additional links on the front page below the Orphans' home and not included in the home itself are links for Graphics Credits, Special Acknowledgments and other Credits, a link to subscribe to the ORPHANAGES mailing list at Rootsweb (free), bookmarking and other special announcements or messages,  and links for signing and viewing the Orphan's Guestbook.  Please do not feel you must have an ancestral orphan to sign the guestbook.  All visitors are invited to sign.

Due to the nature of this site  (i.e., the number of orphan listings by country, state/province, type, and year, etc.),  this section (where you are currently) will never be complete in the details of the Orphans' website.  The Gen-Office (as well as the What's News Room) will contain more of the details and quite a bit of repetition has been built in to the site overall in an effort to supplement this site map.

Thanks for visiting, for reading this, and I wish you all success in your gen-research!

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