If you are looking for a short read (about an hour) on a subject you likely have not heard about — read Orphan Train Rider by Andrea Warren.
The book covers the life of Lee Nailling who rode the train from New York to the ‘West’ (the Midwest) with two of his brothers — after their mother died. The story tells what happened to each of the boys as well as the siblings that were not considered orphans.
Included in the book are data and stats about orphans and how children were generally treated up through the 1920s. For example, in the 1850s, a 7-year-old child could be tried as an adult. This meant that some orphans, like those who had committed petty theft — often to eat, were jailed with adults.
Orphan trains ran in the United States beginning in 1854 and the last one departed in 1930. More than 200,000 children were sent to find new homes this way. It represented the largest migration of children in our history.