If your ancestor spent time in an orphanage, don’t always assume the parents died. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was common for parents who fell upon hard times to put their children in an orphanage. Remember, an orphanage may have meant an education, regular meals, descent clothing, religious training and of course discipline. Often It allowed the parents’ time to get on their feet, come back and claim their children.
If the parents died, then tracking down the orphanage records are very important. In them, you hope to find the family circumstances, if it was a legal matter, the names of the parents and perhaps even the birth place in Ireland of the child or the parents. In the search for records, consider the following questions:
Perhaps it was taken over by another institution who continued to run the home. In the case of a Catholic orphanage, you need to know which Religious Order ran the facility. In the case of a Protestant home, was it run on a congregation, denominational or society bases. History books or old city directories can help you trace the history of orphanages.
This should help you find information. Remember, you won’t be the only person asking about the records. This makes the librarian, archivist or local historian your best friend!
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