Now What?: Lost and Foundling

Now What?: Lost and Foundling

Tracing orphaned ancestors.

Q. How can you trace orphans before their adoption? In early August 1859, David Supple was one of the orphan-train riders bound for Noblesville, Ind.

I haven’t been able to obtain his birth certificate. I know his parents’ names and that he was born in New York Sept. 22, 1848. He was an orphan when he was brought to the Children’s Aid Society, but I haven’t been able to trace death records for either of his parents.

A. Obtaining early birth, marriage and death records is a hit-or-miss affair. A full 25 percent of births went unrecorded in New York City prior to 1910. The Children’s Aid Society didn’t house children as much as it gathered diem up from other orphanages and street corners before sending them on the trains.

Finding the Supple family in the census should be your first course of action, I located the John and Johanna Supple family in the 1850 federal census. It lists them as living in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, 14th ward. Names and ages given for the family are John, 50; Johanna, 30; Ann, 13; Michael, 9; and David, 4; all born in Ireland. Remember that census enumerators sometimes interviewed landlords, neighbors or whoever happened to be handy at the time of the visit. Accuracy can vary greatly, so compare at least two censuses. Try to locate this family on the 1855 state census for New York. If either parent died prior to the census, at least one of the children should be recorded. That child may be listed as an inmate in an orphanage.

Next, post queries on pertinent message boards and write to the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America (614 E. Emma Ave., Suite 115, Springdale, AR 72764, <>), which maintains records on all known orphan-train riders. If you can determine which orphanage the children were in, your search will be much easier.

From the June 2003 Family Tree Magazine

Surrounded by Slides

Maureen A. Taylor
Q. I have a few thousand 35 mm color slides. I’d like to know if there’s any agency that’s able to convert these slides to digital format. I don’t mind scanning several at a time at home, but I don’t have time to scan thousands of slides. As an alternative, are you familiar with any slide scanner that does multiple slides at once?

A. Some slide scanners can handle multiple slides at once, but experts advise scanning slides individually to maintain image quality. You might want to consider scanning limited numbers of slides at first. Evaluate your collection and choose a select few.

After carefully examining your slide collection, you’re ready to start thinking about purchasing a scanner. With scanners’ wide price range — from less than $100 to $2,000 — you need to study your options. Next, identify the key features you want in a scanner. Read user reviews of scanners at <> before shopping around.

If you opt not to buy a scanner, you can take advantage of scanning services offered by many camera stores. Services range in price from $2 to more than $ 10 per slide. Whether this is cost-effective for you depends on the number of slides you want scanned and the value of your time. Before sending all your slides to one store, try the services first to see if you like the results. Selecting a method to scan slides is a personal decision based on your reasons for scanning the collection balanced with the number of slides and costs.

From the June 2003 Family Tree Magazine

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