Abandoned: Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century New York City by Julie Miller

By Julie Miller

Two fascinating goods:
The author's article in New York Archives
A letter relating to foundlings within the Riverdale Press

In the 19th century, foundlings—children deserted by means of their desperately terrible, more often than not single moms, often presently after birth—were average in ecu society. there have been asylums in each significant urban to deal with deserted infants, and writers made them the heroes in their fiction, so much significantly Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. In American towns prior to the Civil warfare the location used to be varied, with foundlings relegated to the poorhouse rather than associations designed in particular for his or her care. by way of the eve of the Civil conflict, big apple urban particularly had a deadly disease of foundlings on its fingers a result of swift and sometimes interlinked phenomena of city improvement, inhabitants development, immigration, and mass poverty. purely then did the city's leaders start to fear concerning the welfare and way forward for its deserted children.

In Abandoned, Julie Miller deals a desirable, not easy, and infrequently heartbreaking background of a as soon as devastating, now forgotten social challenge that wracked America's greatest city, ny urban. jam-packed with anecdotes and private tales, Miller strains the shift in attitudes towards foundlings from lack of understanding, apathy, and infrequently pity for the youngsters and their moms to that of popularity of the matter as an indication of city ethical decline and wanting systematic intervention. tips got here from public officers and spiritual reformers who built 4 associations: the Nursery and kid's Hospital's foundling asylum, the hot York youngster Asylum, the recent York Foundling Asylum, and the general public boy or girl sanatorium, situated on Randall's Island within the East River.

Ultimately, the foundling asylums have been not able to noticeably enhance children’s lives, and by means of the early 20th century, 3 out of the 4 foundling asylums had closed, as adoption took where of abandonment and foster care took where of associations. this present day the notice foundling has been principally forgotten. thankfully, Abandoned rescues its heritage from obscurity.

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Additional info for Abandoned: Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century New York City

Sample text

She was also among the increasing number of New York women who, during “Children of Accident and Mystery” | 21 the nineteenth century, would be driven by poverty, unmarried motherhood, and the conditions of domestic service to recreate in New York the epidemic of foundlings that had begun developing a century earlier in Europe. The Taint of Illegitimacy Whatever the reasons for the increased numbers of foundlings in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, and despite the fact that many, perhaps most, foundlings died in infancy, one result of the proliferation of their numbers was the creation of a caste of social marginals.

The serialization of Eugene Sue’s Mysteries of Paris in the New York worker’s paper The Subterranean, and of the now forgotten Azael Kain; Or, The Fortunes of a Foundling in the New York Weekly are two local examples. The fact that an increasing number of women had access to the rich storehouse of literary information about foundlings and fallen women, and that some borrowed the literary language of their day in the notes they left with their babies does not take away from the authenticity of the notes.

19 Only when large cities developed in the United States did infant abandonment become common. During the first half of the nineteenth century, New York’s population grew explosively, creating unprecedented possibilities for personal privacy. 20 This same urban anonymity provided the cover under which an unmarried woman was able to deposit an infant on a stranger’s doorstep. Urban anonymity, however, could not hide all sins, particularly given the intimacy of some New York neighborhoods. The residents of these neighborhoods, particularly before the period of mass immigration from Ireland and Germany that began in the 1840s, were sometimes just as observant as their village counterparts.

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