A Home of Their Own: The Story of Ohio's Greatest Orphanage

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A Home of Their Own: The Story of Ohio's Greatest Orphanage

  • 360 Pages
  • 7 x 10
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 978-1933197-722
  • Copyright 2010

By Edward Lentz

The Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home came into its remarkable life during the 1870s, a moral response to the debt owed Ohio families damaged and destroyed by their fealty to the great national struggle just endedthe American Civil War. On a desolate hilltop just outside the Green County town of Xenia, Ohio, an entire park-like campus sprang into being. By the turn of the century, a thousand children were housed, clothed, fed, and educated at the place they called "the Home." It was nearly 500 acres containing, among other things, a farm, its own power plant, an extensive trades school, playing fields--and total self-sufficiency.

For a hundred years or more, the Home was one of America's most remarkable institutions. Late in the century, however, powerful shifts in the culture conspired against it. The emerging foster care system and its advocatesusing the negative image of poorly managed institutions, selected figures and statistics, dwindling political support by the once powerful veterans, and a difficult new demographic of seriously disturbed childrenall this eroded its once formidable presence.

Historian Edward Lentz's carefully reconstructed historybolstered by dozens of photographs and voices of the childrenis a compelling story, provoking the question: Should we once again consider orphanages as a way of caring for parentless children?

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