On this day in 1917, Father Edward J. Flanagan—a Roman Catholic priest working in Omaha, Nebraska—founded “Boys Town,” a home for wayward boys. The priest created an orphanage using then-innovative methods of juvenile care, creating a model of institutional child-raising—a far cry from notorious 19th century practices.
Boys Town became most famous after the 1938 film by the same name, starring Spencer Tracey and Mickey Rooney.
The home’s motto, “He ain’t heavy, Father . . . he’s m’ brother,” though not original to Boys Town, has become an eloquent sentiment of brotherly concern and Christian charity. The motto was further made popular with the 1969 hit by The Hollies.
Today, Boys Town serves children across the nation with facilities in twelve other regions of the U.S.
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