Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

The 'Orphan Trains' That Brought Over One Hundred Children To Vermont

From 1854 to 1929, poor and homeless orphans and foundlings from major U.S. cities were trained to rural parts of the country.
Kansas State Historical Society, courtesy
From 1854 to 1929, poor and homeless orphans and foundlings from major U.S. cities were trained to rural parts of the country.

How did you or your family first come to Vermont? Maybe your family traces its history beyond memory. Perhaps you’re a transplant who remembers the first footstep in the Green Mountain State. St. Michael's College professor emeritus Daniel Bean has researched the unique history of a small group of Vermonters: orphans and foundlings rounded up in major cities and brought here on what he calls "orphan trains."

Of the estimated 20,000 children shipped to rural parts of the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s from major cities like Boston and New York, Bean says about 126 of those children came to Vermont on these orphan trains.

An example of a notice handed out to announce the arrival of an orphan train.

Bean joins Vermont Edition to discuss this unique group of Vermonters, how they came to the state, what kind of homes they found here and where some of them ended up.

Bean is giving a lecture about the orphan trains at the Shelburne Historical Society on Monday, April 16 at 6:30 PM.

Broadcast live on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Correction 9:54 a.m. 4/16/2018: This post has been updated to fix a misspelling of Bean's name.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
Latest Stories