Sarah McGuirk, Orphan Train Rider

Orphan Trains resettled some 250,000 children from crowded eastern cities to rural areas of the United States from 1853 to 1929. The program, though well-intentioned, was not without its critics.

A lifelong history buff and family researcher, Wilson began a quest to discover how her great-grandmother Sarah McGuirk wound up in the middle of Illinois without any known relatives. With few clues to go on, the mystery was solved years later when rare documents were discovered in New York City.

Using her ancestor as a case study, Wilson explains how the orphan train program worked and didn't work, and explores the story behind the story: the influx of Irish immigrants from the Great Famine.

lectern, microphone, digital projector, projection screen