By Julie Miller

Two attention-grabbing goods:
The author's article in New York Archives
A letter concerning foundlings within the Riverdale Press

In the 19th century, foundlings—children deserted through their desperately bad, quite often single moms, frequently almost immediately after birth—were standard in eu society. there have been asylums in each significant urban to accommodate deserted infants, and writers made them the heroes in their fiction, so much significantly Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. In American towns sooner than the Civil conflict the location used to be diversified, with foundlings relegated to the poorhouse rather than associations designed in particular for his or her care. by means of the eve of the Civil battle, long island urban particularly had a plague of foundlings on its fingers as a result swift and sometimes interlinked phenomena of city improvement, inhabitants progress, 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, complicated, 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 knowledge, 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. suggestions got here from public officers and spiritual reformers who built 4 associations: the Nursery and kid's Hospital's foundling asylum, the recent York child Asylum, the recent York Foundling Asylum, and the general public youngster medical institution, situated on Randall's Island within the East River.

Ultimately, the foundling asylums have been not able to noticeably increase children’s lives, and by way 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 day the note foundling has been mostly forgotten. thankfully, Abandoned rescues its heritage from obscurity.

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

Example text

Informants, revealed “that it was her [the mother’s] intention to abandon it, and for Mrs. 95 “Children of Accident and Mystery” | 41 Infanticide While many people who abandoned babies in antebellum New York chose methods that did not immediately threaten their babies’ lives, others did not. Sometimes the line between abandonment and infanticide was very thin; sometimes it was nonexistent. In fact, some babies discovered on the street were not foundlings but murder victims.

Like his wife, he visited the Hôpital des Enfants Trouvés in Paris, and the experience gave rise to musings. “I have seen,” he wrote, in the Hospital of Foundlings, the “Enfans [sic] Trouvés,” at Paris, fifty babes in one room;—all under four days old; all in cradles alike; all nursed and attended alike; all dressed alike; all equally neat. I went from one end to the other of the whole row, and attentively observed all their countenances. And I never saw a greater variety, or more striking inequalities, in the streets of Paris or London.

When nurse Ann Murray reported to the almshouse commissioners that Mary Ann Davis had left a child with her and then disappeared, they believed her—until Murray returned and took the baby back. They wrote: “It was presumed that the mother and Mrs. ” Murray’s rapid return to retrieve the child evidently made the commissioners question the truth of her original story. 91 These attempted collusions between abandoning mothers and the nurses hired by the almshouse demonstrate that these women had shared concerns.

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