Dr. William Seraile's summary of his BNHG presentation on February 27, 2018.
William Seraile is Professor Emeritus of History at Lehman College of the City University of New York. He is the author of five books, including “Angels of Mercy: White Women and the History of New York’s Colored Orphan Asylum.”
The Colored Orphan Asylum (COA) was founded in 1836 by three Quaker women. It was sorely needed, since youth of color were excluded from orphanages for white children. The orphanage faced many obstacles throughout its existence including financial panics, fires, diseases and chronic money shortage. Racism led to its complete destruction in the Draft Riots of July 1863, when its building at 43rd and Fifth Avenue was looted and burned by the mob. The frightened children and staff escaped to the protection of a nearby police precinct and then to Blackwell’s Island (Roosevelt Island).