Thursday, June 23, 2011

Indianapolis Orphan Asylum 1851-1940

For those with an interest, my feature article about the Indianapolis Orphan Asylum, entitled "Early Midwestern Orphanage," has just been published in the Spring/Summer issue of The Hoosier Genealogist: Connections, published by the Indiana Historical Society. The society holds about three dozen volumes of detailed records from the asylum's 99-year history, which when incorporated into a planned database should be of great interest to many genealogists, some of whom may not even know it. (Children came mostly from central Indiana, but some were adopted as far away as Kansas.) Regular readers already know that this is one of two quality genealogy magazines published in the state.

From what I have seen, the asylum's records also contradict the historical stereotype of such institutions as primarily warehouses for children. In fact, most of its children were placed in new homes or back in their families. And the records sketching out why children arrived there in the 1890s and early 1900s document the terrible stories of ordinary people down on their luck in a society with a minimal safety net.

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