New York's Dairy Dependents: The Children’s Aid Society’s Emigration Program and Upstate Dairy Farming, 1853-1929


Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships


Social Sciences


From 1853 to 1929, the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) employed “orphan trains” to emigrate thousands of New York City children to family farms across the United States. Despite—and perhaps because of—familiarity with these orphan trains, little is known about the large number of CAS émigrés placed on Upstate New York farms. As a work of historical sociology, this project uses primary and secondary source data to identify patterns and processes of CAS emigration in New York State. In so doing, it details the CAS’s connection to Upstate dairy farming, shedding light on how diverse New Yorkers drew on family and migration strategies, Protestant and agrarian ideologies, and scientific and bureaucratic techniques to institute and integrate distinct organizations—and regions—across the state.