This multi-media presentation tells the story of 250,000 orphans and unwanted children who were placed on trains in New York between 1854-1929 and sent all over the United States to be given away. An estimated 1,200 came to Texas, such as Sarah Lousina Parks who came to El Paso around 1910. Through literature, music, archival photographs, film interviews, informal lecture and storytelling, this virtually untold chapter in American history comes alive. It will be followed by a recitation from a forthcoming historical novel about the Orphan Trains by Alison Moore. After the presentation, there will be an informal discussion led by Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster about the origin and demise of the largest child migration in history and the part it played in the formation of the American Dream.
Alison Moore, MFA, is a former Assistant Professor of English/Creative Writing in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona and a current Humanities Scholar in Texas. She lives in Austin and is completing a novel on the Orphan Trains with a grant from the Texas Institute of Letters and the Dobie/Paisano Foundation of the University of Texas at Austin.
Arkansas Arts on Tour musician Phil Lancaster (Professor Strings) was born in Texarkana and studied art and music at L’Ecole De Beaux Arts in Angers, France. He became a member of a bluegrass band that traveled and played throughout France and produced an album entitled Bluegrass Oldies Ltd./Traveling Show. In 2007, he received an Arkansas Arts Council fellowship for Music Composition. He currently lives in Austin and is a co-presenter of Riders on the Orphan Train.