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In a world dominated by poverty, a central characteristic has been the plight of orphans and abandoned children. Over the centuries, State, Church and individuals have all attempted to tackle the issue, but can we trace any change over the course of time when it comes to the welfare system intended for these disadvantaged children and acts of philanthropy? What kind of social policies did States follow and what were the main differences between countries and regions? Drawing on historical evidence across several centuries and a range of European countries, the contributors to this volume provide a transnational overview.