Summer 2020 Educator Guide

Travelers Aid Society Article


Compelling Question: How can individuals help to solve the problems they see in society?

Setting the Stage

View this video from pbslearningmedia.org and discuss the idea of “social work” as it relates to the Orphan Train Movement.


Click on the image to access the Travelers Aid Society article.


The Beginnings of Social Work

In his article for this issue of New York Archives Magazine, Eric Cimino explores how the Travelers Aid Society served as an early form of social aid for women in New York.  Many threats existed for women of all races, ethnicities, and religions as they traveled to the United States during the early 1900s. Cimino mined the archives to tell the story of an organization established to help female travelers reach their destination safely. As students read this article, they will discover the ways individuals can help create a safer community by identifying a need and creating a solution to the problem.

Guided Reading Questions

1. What was the purpose of the Travelers Aid Society?   

2. Why was the Travelers Aid Society created?

3. Who did the Travelers Aid Society help?     

4. Who worked for the Travelers Aid Society?

5. List two specific ways the Travelers Aid Society helped individuals in the early 1900s?   

6. How was the Travelers Aid Society an early form of social work? 


Image: Grand Central Station, 1904
Courtesy: Library of Congress

Document Analysis Questions

1. What objects and people do you see in this photograph? 

2. Where was this photograph taken? Provide evidence from the photograph for your answer.

3. What dangers might the individuals in the photograph face in this place? 

4. How would workers from the Travelers Aid Society be able to help some of the people in this photograph?

This resource includes supporting questions to guide students in the reading of the article and analysis questions for understanding the primary sources. All educational materials are aligned to the New York State Social Studies Framework. The learning objectives are taken directly from the Social Studies Practices and the content fits within the framework.