By Julie Miller
Two attention-grabbing 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 way of their desperately negative, generally single moms, frequently presently after birth—were common 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, such a lot significantly Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. In American towns sooner than the Civil battle the placement was once various, with foundlings relegated to the poorhouse rather than associations designed in particular for his or her care. through the eve of the Civil conflict, ny urban particularly had a scourge of foundlings on its arms as a result fast and sometimes interlinked phenomena of city improvement, inhabitants progress, immigration, and mass poverty. basically then did the city's leaders start to fear in regards to the welfare and way forward for its deserted children.
In Abandoned, Julie Miller bargains a desirable, problematical, and sometimes heartbreaking historical past of a as soon as devastating, now forgotten social challenge that wracked America's largest city, manhattan urban. choked with anecdotes and private tales, Miller strains the shift in attitudes towards foundlings from lack of expertise, apathy, and occasionally 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. guidance got here from public officers and non secular reformers who developed 4 associations: the Nursery and kid's Hospital's foundling asylum, the hot York child Asylum, the hot York Foundling Asylum, and the general public baby health facility, 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. at the present time the notice 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
As she told the commissioners, “information” she gathered, possibly from neighborhood 40 | “Children of Accident and Mystery” Image not available In this illustration titled “A Sad Case of Misplaced Conﬁdence,” a “Sympathetic Gent” tells a police ofﬁcer how a woman duped him into holding a baby. Two hours later, he was still holding it. The practice, familiar before the Civil War, persisted after it, as this illustration demonstrates. Thomas Worth. Wild Oats . Collection of the New-York Historical Society, 79725d.
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. The very act of abandonment is proof enough of real desperation. But it does mean that when a woman who wanted to abandon a baby took up a pen to write a note, the wealth of stories about seduced heroines and abandoned babies gave her abundant literary models to copy.
Johnson one autumn evening in 1840. ”94 The method of abandoning a baby to a third party who could be relied on to bring it to the almshouse or perhaps even keep the baby may have been used by poor and desperate mothers who wished to avoid exposing their babies to the dangers of streets or doorsteps, as well as to avoid exposing themselves to prosecution under New York’s 1829 law against abandonment. In 1841, for instance, Clarissa Davis agreed to watch ten-month-old Laura Miranda Bowerhorn for an hour, but a week went by and the mother did not return.
Abandoned: Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century New York City by Julie Miller