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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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New Start In Riverdale, 1907–22

New Start In Riverdale, 1907–22

(p.120) 6 New Start In Riverdale, 1907–22
Angels of Mercy

William Seraile

Fordham University Press

The Colored Orphan Asylum (COA) trustees were determined that their new home in Riverdale would be modeled on the cottage system, which was then in vogue. The New York Juvenile Asylum had embraced the cottage system in 1897 as a way to enforce discipline and “to stimulate the intimacy of family life.” The Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Orphan Asylum in nearby Westchester County, New York, preferred young cottage mothers who had pedagogical training or kindergarten training. The Carson and Ellis College in Philadelphia provided white girls with a complete unit of family life, with kitchen, dining room, and common room. However, not all agreed that the housemothers should be African Americans. Mrs. J. L. Chapin questioned the advisability of employing black housemothers. Despite the initial inconveniences, at the end of 1907 the ladies were pleased with the cottage system, which represented a return to the early days of the asylum and its emphasis on a closely knit home environment.

Keywords:   Riverdale, cottage system, New York Juvenile Asylum, Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Orphan Asylum, Carson and Ellis College, housemothers, African Americans, J. L. Chapin, Colored Orphan Asylum

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