Nineteenth-Century Adoption Advertisements (1856)
Death rates among nineteenth-century adults were higher than we’re used
to: one child I’ve researched lost both parents before she was 14; another
lost his mother and two stepmothers before he reached adulthood.
Advertisements weren’t unusual, though they may not be all
they appear: occasionally, stories were concocted to make an illegitimate
child more attractive to potential parents. These appeared on the front page
(with the other “classified ads”) of the New York Daily Tribune on
January 14, 1856.
WHO WANTS A LITTLE BOY?—A Widower, with six children, has a
LITTLE BOY, 8 years old, that he would like some respectable person to
ADOPT. Inquire of Mrs. MITCHELL, No. 471 Houston-st., corner of the Bowery.
WANTED—To ADOPT a lovely and interesting little female INFANT, five
months old. The mother is left a widow, and not able to support it. Apply
at the Employment Society, No. 13 Bible House, for a week. Ask for Catharine.