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Charles Loring Brace

Brace, Charles Loring, 1826–90, American clergyman and social reformer, b. Litchfield, Conn. America's pioneer children's advocate, he founded (1853) the Children's Aid Society of New York, an organization that established modern methods in child welfare. Brace was also mainly responsible for the "orphan trains" that were common in the decades just preceding and following the Civil War and lasted until about 1930. These trains transported orphans from the crowded, poverty-stricken, and disease-ridden streets of New York City to Midwestern farms and other rural locations, where they were adopted and/or obliged to work. The system improved many lives, but some of the children were exploited as free labor. This practice was the immediate predecessor of the U.S. foster care system. Among Brace's books are Short Sermons to Newsboys (1866) and Gesta Christi (1882).

See G. Trasler, In Place of Parents (1960); T. Bender, Toward an Urban Vision (1982); S. O'Connor, Orphan Trains: The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed (2001).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Social Reformers


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