Children dressmaking at Soldiers' Orphan Industrial School

Soldiers' Orphan Schools

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In his book titled, "Pennsylvania's Soldiers' Orphan Schools" (1876, Lane S. Hart Printer), James Laughery Paul, the Chief Clerk of the Department of Soldiers' Orphan Schools at the time, explained that one the purposes of his extraordinary effort was "to educate coming generations to the belief that if men fall on the battle-field or in the discharge of the duties which they owe to the nation, in the defence of Liberty, Justice, and Right, a loving and God-fearing people will take their offspring to themselves as their own, and, so far as can be, fit them physically, mentally, and morally for the stern realities of this world and the enjoyments of that which lies beyond."

While Pennsylania had a history of looking after orphans, the Civil War was the primary motivation for Pennsylvania to establish their extensive system of orphan schools and homes to care for, educate and train the children of fallen soldiers. Between the years 1870 and 1918, the State of Pennsylvania published annual reports that contained information about the orphans at each of the schools.

Some of the reports include lists of "Sixteeners," which are "the names of children, who, having arrived at the age of sixteen, were discharged from their school" during the year.

In 2004, Genealogy Today transcribed the 1883 and 1891 reports, as part of our Family Tree Connection project. And in 2005, we added the 1877 report. Now, in 2007, we're going to tackle a much larger collection of these reports, further expanding the amount of information available online regarding the soldiers' orphans (see database search below).

The following are the Pennsylvania Soldiers' Orphan Schools (with years of operation caring for soldiers' orphans in parenthesis):

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Our collection includes the following volumes:

1876 Orphan Schools by J. L. Paul (pending)
1877 Annual Report (transcribed)
1878 Annual Report (transcribed)
1879 Annual Report (transcribed)
1880 Annual Report (transcribed)
1882 Annual Report (transcribed)
1883 Annual Report (transcribed)
1885 Annual Report (transcribed)
1888 Annual Report (transcribed)
1889 Annual Report (copy obtained)
1890 Annual Report (transcribed)
1891 Annual Report (transcribed)
1893 Annual Report (transcribed)
1894 Annual Report (transcribed)
1895 Annual Report* (on hold, free link below)
1897 Annual Report* (transcribed)
1898 Annual Report* (transcribed)
1899 Annual Report* (pending)
1900 Annual Report* (pending)
1901 Annual Report* (transcribed)
1902 Annual Report* (on hold, free link below)
1903 Annual Report* (pending)
1904 Annual Report* (pending)
1905 Discharge List (transcribed)
1907 Annual Report* (pending)
1908 Annual Report* (copy obtained)

*Includes a complete roster of children. Other years include listing of "Sixteeners" (i.e. students discharged).

Records Online at other Sites

1895 Annual Report (transcribed)
1902 Annual Report (transcribed)

Additional Resources

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