In this pandemic, most travel is prohibited, especially international. But I can’t imagine how frightening it would be to be stuck somewhere and have no resources. And double that fear if I found myself in a strange country and be unable to speak the language.
So organizations founded just to help travelers are a godsend, no matter when or where.
The Travelers Aid movement began in 1851 with Bryan Mullanphy, a former mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, who bequeathed half a million dollars to assist “bona fide travelers heading West.”
This organization furnished provisions and the means with which to make the trip for men and women in good health who showed the stamina required for the journey. I can only imagine how many adventurous settlers they helped.
Until recently, I had never heard of this organization and never knew anything like this existed!
Once the West was settled, the Travelers Aid Society moved into providing protection for women and girls traveling alone. Such a beneficial program that kept them from falling victim to the white slave trade and other criminal enterprises.
By the early twentieth century, they served all people regardless of gender, age, race, class, or religion. It truly became an organization for everyone.
It morphed into the National Travelers Aid Association in 1917 under Grace Dodge. They welcomed immigrants to the U.S. and provided assistance and a safe place to stay for anyone needing one. The organization set up offices near all the ports of entry and stood ready to dive in and assist anyone with a problem.
During the 1920s and throughout WWII, they were a prominent fixture at railroad stations, helping soldiers, unaccompanied minors, and assisting stranded travelers.
There are still around 40 Travelers Aid programs in the U.S. with offices at major airports to assist where there’s a need. In 2010, they assisted 7 million people in getting to their destination.
For an organization that’s 169 years old, that’s pretty darn good.
Have you ever traveled to a strange place and needed help? Would you ever reach out to The National Travelers Aid association if you were in a bind? I’m giving away a signed copy of The Mail Order Bride’s Secret so leave a comment to enter.