The free public program, Riders on the Orphan Train, is coming to Cortez on Wednesday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. This program is the official touring outreach program from The National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center in Concordia, Kansas, and will be presented at the Cortez Public Library, 202 N. Park St.
The subject of the Orphan Trains is an eleventh hour situation, as the last few survivors of the 250,000 orphans and unwanted children that were placed out are now reaching the end of their lives. Of particular interest to the Colorado audience will be the discovery of the part this state played in the placing out movement. Over 1,500 children came to this state. Records show that they came to Buena Vista, Leadville, Denver, Colorado Springs, Flagler, Florence, Arvada, Pueblo, Trinidad, Ft. Amity (a Salvation Army community east of Lamar), San Luis, and Boulder.
This historical presentation is designed to inform, entertain, and move audiences of all origins and ages. It combines storytelling, music, and video with archival photographs and contemporary interviews of survivors, and informal discussion with a question and answer period to bring awareness about this little-known chapter of the largest child migration in history.
In 1853, Methodist minister Charles Loring Brace was shocked at the number of homeless children he found in the streets of New York. He founded The Childrens Aid Society that year and between 1854 and 1929 sent out over 250,000 orphans and surrendered children of single parents. These children found homes in every state in the continental United States. Beginning in 1863, the Sisters of Charity of the New York Foundling Hospital also sent out children, specifically to Catholic families that requested them through their local priest. Until a PBS documentary in 1995, this subject was largely unknown and is still not included in history books.
This presentation was originally created by novelist/humanities scholar Alison Moore and musician/producer Phil Lancaster as an outreach program for the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Inc. The two are now based in Austin, Texas and have been touring the U.S. since 1998; this is their third tour for presentations in museums and libraries. In 2012, Moore and Lancaster were awarded the Charles Loring Brace Award for their contributions to raising awareness about the Orphan Train movement.
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 has just published an historical novel titled Riders on the Orphan Train with a fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts. The book will be available for purchase at the presentation. She has developed public outreach programs for the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Inc. and for ArtsReach, a Native American literacy project in Southern Arizona. She is the author of three books, a collection of short stories entitled The Middle of Elsewhere a novel, Synonym for Love and a collection of short stories, Small Spaces between Emergencies, one of the Notable Books of 1993 chosen by The American Library Association.
Phil Lancaster was born in Texarkana, Arkansas and studied art and music at LEcole 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. 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 folk festivals. He is the recipient of a 2007 Fellowship for Music Composition from the Arkansas Arts Council. Phil is a co-producer of the documentary film Gospel, Biscuits & Gravy created for the Department of Arkansas Heritage in 2002. He is currently co-producer and presenter for the Riders on the Orphan Train public program.
For more information about this program, contact Joanie Howland at 564-4072 or firstname.lastname@example.org.