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

By Julie Miller

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

In the 19th century, foundlings—children deserted by means of their desperately bad, usually single moms, often presently after birth—were standard in ecu 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 earlier than the Civil conflict the location was once various, with foundlings relegated to the poorhouse rather than associations designed in particular for his or her care. via the eve of the Civil struggle, big apple urban specifically had a plague of foundlings on its palms as a result of the fast and infrequently interlinked phenomena of city improvement, inhabitants development, immigration, and mass poverty. in basic terms then did the city's leaders start to fear concerning the welfare and way forward for its deserted children.

In Abandoned, Julie Miller bargains a desirable, complex, and sometimes heartbreaking heritage of a as soon as devastating, now forgotten social challenge that wracked America's greatest city, long island urban. choked with anecdotes and private tales, Miller lines the shift in attitudes towards foundlings from lack of information, apathy, and infrequently pity for the kids and their moms to that of popularity of the matter as an indication of city ethical decline and short of systematic intervention. suggestions got here from public officers and non secular reformers who developed 4 associations: the Nursery and kid's Hospital's foundling asylum, the recent York baby Asylum, the recent York Foundling Asylum, and the general public little one 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. this present day the be aware foundling has been principally forgotten. thankfully, Abandoned rescues its background from obscurity.

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

Sample text

In the fall of 1843, the New York workingman’s newspaper The Subterranean published an excerpt from Eugene Sue’s novel, The Mysteries of Paris. Sue’s Mysteries, which was serialized in the French Journal des Debats in 1842–43, took readers on a tour through a Parisian underworld populated by castoffs of society — thieves, thugs, prostitutes, and foundlings, including the novel’s heroine, Fleur de Marie. 53 The Mysteries was extraordinarily popular in New York. 54 Something similar happened in 1859, when the New York Tribune ran a prominent advertisement on its front page for a serialized story, Azael Kain; Or, the Fortunes of a Foundling, which was scheduled to run in the New-York Weekly.

Henry Fielding (Tom Jones), Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist), Eugene Sue (Mysteries of Paris), George Sand (The Country Waif ), Herman Melville (Billy Budd), George Eliot (Adam Bede) and Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest) are among the authors who played the predicament of the abandoned baby for either pathos or farce. In this interconnected body of literary work about foundlings, some story elements no doubt originated in the hopeful or fanciful imaginations of their tellers, but many others are rooted in historical reality.

92 In a similar case, a woman approached a small boy and asked him to take her year-old baby to the almshouse. 93 Such fleeting yet momentous encounters with abandoners must have been disorienting, even frightening reminders of the vulnerability of one’s neighbors, their children, and, by extension, oneself. Imagine the bafflement of Catherine Reed, who, in 1840, complained to the almshouse commissioners that a woman who gave her name as Mary Mitchell had come to her house and asked her to hold an infant for a short time.

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