So many orphans

images-1Pre-20th Century European literature is full of orphans. For good reason. Consider these statistics from the Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society.

  • In 17th & 18th C western European, 1 out of 3 children had lost at least one parent.
  • 1 out of 2 children in 19th C Milan had lost a parent by age 20.
  • 1/3 of all boys in 19th C China had lost a parent by age 15.
  • In 19th C Sweden, 60% of children who lost their mothers before their first birthday died before age 15; while “only” 30% of those who lost their father that early were dead by age 15.
  • In 1915 Baltimore, nearly half the children whose mother died before they were two months old swiftly followed their mothers to the grave.

Do you know about “orphan trains” in 19th and early 20th Century America, carrying unwanted children from east coast cities to servitude in the needy Midwest? Christina Kline Baker’s Orphan Train is a fascinating and engrossing read.

FYI: all this orphan research came about in research for my upcoming historical novel, due out Spring, 2015: World War I, magic realism, shell-shock, a Prussian orphan and a castle in New Jersey.

Pamela Schoenewaldt, historical novels of immigration and the search for self in new worlds: WHEN WE WERE STRANGERS, SWIMMING IN THE MOON, and UNDER THE SAME BLUE SKY (all HarperCollins).

Posted in WWWS

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Sunday, May 6, 2pm reading from latest work at Hexagon Brewing Company, Knoxville, TN.

Thursday, May 10, 6-8 pm presentation on research on the historical novel, Blount County Library, Maryville, TN.

When We Were Strangers, Italian translation, to be presented in Pescasseroli, Italy, August 2018.

Recent Review
“Absorbing and layered with rich historical details, in Under the Same Blue Sky, Schoenewaldt weaves a tender and at times, heartbreaking story about German-Americans during World War I. With remarkable compassion, the author skillfully portrays conflicted loyalties, the search for belonging, the cruelty of war, and the resilience of the human spirit.”—Ann Weisgarber, author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel Dupree

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