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Angels of MercyWhite Women and the History of New York's Colored Orphan Asylum$
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William Seraile

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823234196

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823234196.001.0001

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Fifth Avenue: Growth and Progress, 1843–54

Fifth Avenue: Growth and Progress, 1843–54

(p.31) 2 Fifth Avenue: Growth and Progress, 1843–54
Angels of Mercy

William Seraile

Fordham University Press

The Colored Orphan Asylum's (COA) move to Forty-third Street and Fifth Avenue was chaotic. The orphanage's staff had to transport furniture and household goods — along with children of various ages — through Manhattan streets clogged with private and public carriages and wagons ferrying goods around the island. The area, then outside of the city's limits, was described by Mary Murray as an inelegant neighborhood lacking paved streets. Prominent New Yorkers aided the institution. James Lenox, whose funds would immensely aid the future New York Public Library, was a major supporter of the COA. The children helped to lower expenses by doing much of the housework. The public appeals presented the bigoted view of the institution's physicians James MacDonald and James Proudfit, members of the American Colonization Society, that the children's high morbidity and mortality were due to environment, poverty, and their “peculiar constitution and condition.”

Keywords:   orphanage, Manhattan, Mary Murray, James Lenox, Colored Orphan Asylum, housework, public appeals, James MacDonald, American Colonization Society

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