by Lisa South, Certified Genealogist
The following article was written in the July
14, 2005 OneGreatFamily newsletter. Since Lisa is no
longer writing for us, we are featuring some of our
favorite articles written by her.
Orphanage records have been kept for at least 200
years. Orphanages were operated by civil authorities,
religious groups, and priority benefactors.
Unfortunately, the records they kept vary in type and
are often hard to locate.
In early America, local courts elected or appointed
someone to deal with the orphans. If property was
involved, the court would appoint guardians. The orphan
might have been bound out to learn a trade. These
records would be at the county court house. Some are
indexed under orphans, apprentices, or paupers.
Orphanages maintained by the government kept better
records than church or private agencies. These records
should be available if the orphanage is still operating.
If the orphanage does not still exist, state archives,
county court houses, and historical libraries should be
If the orphanage was run by a church, you should
check with that church to try and locate records.
Some orphan records have been copied and can be
searched at your nearest Family History Center of the
LDS church on microfilm or microfiche.