"Riots in New York: Destruction of the Colored Orphan Asylum," Illustrated London News, August 15, 1863. Reproduced collection
New-York Historical Society.
Orphan Asylum

The New York Manumission Society was an all-male, all-white organization devoted to protecting black people in the city. The wives and daughters of the members adopted their own approach to relieving suffering among black New Yorkers. In 1836, Anna and Hannah Shotwell and Mary Murray, Quaker women, founded the Colored Orphan Asylum. James McCune Smith was appointed its doctor in 1846. Dr. Smith and other black leaders encouraged graduates to aspire to skilled jobs. By 1863, more than 1,250 children had passed through its doors. Many, in fact, were not "full" orphans, but their parents — because of poverty, illness, or the demands of their work — could not provide a home for them.

In July 1863, the Colored Orphan Asylum was burned to the ground during the draft riots. Its children all escaped safely.