An Orphanage for New York

  • Prosperity
  • 1806

The New York Orphan Asylum Society was established in 1806 by a group of concerned women. (These included the recently widowed Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, who was then caring for six children whose mothers and fathers had died.) The women raised private funds and received a donation of land so that children would not have to resort to the local government-run almshouse. In 1807 the cornerstone was laid for a permanent orphanage in Greenwich Village. As they grew up, boys were apprenticed to mechanics or farmers, while girls either entered trades like hatmaking or became servants in private homes. The society cared for more than the children’s material well-being: “They must have religious instruction, moral example, and habits of industry inculcated on their minds,” stated one contemporary maxim. Staying afloat during its early decades through bequests and skilled investing, the society and its successor organizations have now served

  • Joanna Mathews, A Short History of the Orphan Asylum Society (A.D.F. Randolph & Co., 1893)