The Immigrant Experience in Philadelphia, 1850-1960

Temple University

This year's One Book, One Philadelphia book is Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train, which traces the story of an Irish immigrant girl who lands in New York City, loses her family in a tenement fire in 1929, and is sent west on an orphan train. It “connects us with the importance of heritage and memories in shaping who we are, the value of intergenerational relationships, and the fundamental power of family.”

The novel could just as easily have told the story of immigrants arriving in Philadelphia, and that range of experience is feature in the exhibit entitled The Immigrant Experience in Philadelphia, 1850-1960, found on the ground, first, and mezzanine floors of Paley Library.  Drawn from the archival and rare book collections in the Special Collections Research Center, the exhibit looks at themes from Orphan Train through the lens of Philadelphia history.