Hammond — The highly acclaimed multi-media presentation “Riders on the Orphan Train” will be presented at Southeastern Louisiana University in a free public showing at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, in the Teacher Education Center KIVA auditorium on campus.
The showing is limited to 300 people on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The program chronicles the story between 1854 and 1929 when more than a quarter-million orphans and unwanted children were taken from New York City and given away at train stations across America. It is considered the beginning of the foster care system in the United States.
The presentation is part of the university’s annual Fanfare celebration of the arts, humanities and social sciences. It is sponsored by the Library of Congress, which funds the Teaching With Primary Sources Program at Southeastern, the university’s Department of Teaching and Learning and the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center in Concordia, Kansas.
“Orphan Train” is presented by novelist and scholar Alison Moore, author of the book “Riders on the Orphan Train.” She collaborates with singer/songwriter Phil Lancaster in the production, which combines audio-visual elements, historical fiction and musical ballads into a performance that helps bring the movement into public awareness.
“The ‘Orphan Train’ is a little-known period of American history when the idea was conceived to rid New York of thousands of homeless street children and provide them with an opportunity to find new homes in the developing Midwest,” explained Cindy Elliott, head of the Department of Teaching and Learning in the SLU College of Education. “This story about child migration is filled with horror stories and some happy endings.”
Elliott said more than 1,900 children from the New York Foundling Hospital were sent to Opelousas to meet new families and begin their new lives. Members of the Louisiana Orphan Train Society are expected to be present.
For more information, contact the SLU Department of Teaching and Learning at (985) 549-2221.