John E. Murray, a professor of political economy at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., will read from his book “The Charleston Orphan House: Children’s Lives in the First Public Orphanage in America” at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun St.

Murray will describe the early orphan house and read from some of the children’s letters. Copies of the book, published by University of Chicago Press, will be available for sale.

The Charleston Orphan House cared for about 2,000 children before the Civil War. They learned to read and write, and occasionally stir up trouble. After a few years, children entered the homes of tradesmen in the city and merchants upstate. Among the least-known of historical Charlestonians, these white urban poor tell their own stories in this book.