William Seraile

in Angels of Mercy

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234196
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240838 | DOI:

Series: Empire State Editions


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The demise of the Colored Orphan Asylum at Riverdale was a sad event in the history of an institution that dated to 1836. The founders and early managers were mainly women who sought to do God's will by caring for abused and forsaken black children. They took on this mammoth effort at a time when African Americans were shunned by society. Oppressive laws prohibited much of their daily contact with their fellow white residents unless they were in a subordinate position. The white women, many of whom personally abhorred the horrors of slavery and who wished to do God's will by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, did so at the risk of “unsexing” themselves in the eyes of their less Christian contemporaries. Men and women of means such as John Jacob Astor, R. H. Macy, Theodore Roosevelt Sr., William Jay, Anna Jay, Caroline Stokes, and many others contributed generously to the betterment of the orphan black child.

Keywords: Riverdale; Colored Orphan Asylum; black children; African Americans; William Jay; white women; John Jacob Astor; R. H. Macy; Theodore Roosevelt Sr; Caroline Stokes

Chapter.  1595 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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