Voices Through Time: The Story of Care

Welcome to our July newsletter!

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Have you received our welcome email? Signed up on Zooniverse? See our welcome information below.

Token for Foundling number 13496, Coram Archive

Key information  

Welcome information

Queries: Write your question in Talk 
Our team is part-time.
We will always get back to your question as soon as we can.  
All about the project

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Petition of Mary Cole, Coram Archive.

This month 

1,691 pages transcribed
354  Talk comments  
15   new people transcribing 
564   record pages completed 

Each page is completed once it has been transcribed three separate times. It's then compiled together into a final transcription, to ensure best quality.


We’re being tested!
Have you noticed that you can’t find our project by searching on the Zooniverse website? That’s because whilst our project is live, it isn’t yet an official “Zooniverse Project”.

In order to become official, we need to pass the Zooniverse’s review process – called a Beta Test. Zooniverse volunteers test out our transcription task and the project to see if it works and is easy to use.

We’ll be undergoing a Beta Test with Zooniverse testers the week of 2 August.
You can take part too, by leaving feedback in the Zooniverse form we’ll circulate that week. You'll see it on the blue banner that appears on the project homepage here

Advance warning:
On Tuesday – Thursday 10-12 August our project will be temporarily closed while we implement the changes required from our test feedback.
We’ll be back up online ready for you to transcribe on 13 August.

Blazing performances

At our first Voices Through Time event!

On 8-9 July, we held our first in-person event – What's in a name?
12 young people performed spoken word, music and rap to a spellbound audience at the Arcola Theatre in London.

The performances were the culmination of three months of hard work exploring the theme of identity, through workshops with rapper and artist Ric Flo.
All participants were care-experienced and used our Foundling Hospital records as inspiration to reflect on the story of care.

On both the Thursday and Friday nights they brought brave, beautiful and bold performing to the stage, sharing their stories and prompting the audience to challenge their understanding of what it means to have been in care.

As part of the project they also recorded an album, which you can listen to here

Our talks and events  

You can always attend online events for free as a volunteer.   
See here for new events and to watch recordings of past talks. 

Update from our Archivist

Earlier this month we shared the first set of Petition Letters on Zooniverse.
The interest in these has been phenomenal!

As well as transcribing the documents at a very fast rate, the findings that you have been sharing have been fascinating. You’ve also been connecting different documents together to reveal fuller pictures of the people involved and have already added huge amounts of knowledge to the story of the those whose lives were touched by the Foundling Hospital.

What are the petition letters?
From 1763 – 1801 mothers had to “petition” by writing a letter to the Governors to state why their child should be taken into the Foundling Hospital. They usually presented their case by giving reasons why they could not care for their child.

Other information that we are seeing in these letters includes the name of the mother, along with her age and marital status. The date of the child’s birth and some information about the father, if known. Whilst the majority were written by, or on behalf of the mothers, there are some that were written by other family members, friends, neighbours or employers. The letters often contain heart-breaking detail as the petitioners explain their situations and why they cannot look after the child themselves.

In this first series of Petition Letters that we are sharing, there are twenty-five volumes and they cover the period 1768-1800. These contain Petition Letters that were administered as part of a ballot system.
 Some petitions were successful and gained admittance for a child to the Foundling Hospital, others were unsuccessful and the Foundling Hospital was unable to take the child in to their care.

To find out more about the ballot system and changes to the admissions process at the Foundling Hospital over the years, see our article here

Real stories of mothers #realstoriesofcare
See the ‘Stories from the Talk message board’ section below for the details of some of our recent volunteer findings.

Beyond this initial set of twenty five volumes of Petition Letters, there will be more still to transcribe. I hope you can join us to help uncover even more #realstoriesofcare and contribute to the story of the care system in the UK.

Jo Blyghton, Voices Through Time Project Archivist 

Ten Young Lives article series

Last time we told you about two blogs written by volunteers Julie and Joyce Elena.
Joyce Elena’s series continues this month - casting a spotlight on ten young lives from the Foundling Hospital’s infirmary.  Read it here

Dr Jenner performing his first vaccination, 1796". Oil painting by Ernest Board. Credit: Wellcome Collection

Life of a Victorian Foundling - Benjamin’s story

What can we find out about the life of a Foundling?
In this article Historical Researcher Janette Bright takes us
on a journey through the life of Benjamin Scarlett. Read it here

Image credit: Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, The Pears’ Centenary Edition, I, 19. Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
Read more articles about the Foundling Hospital and the archives here
Foundation piecing. English paper piecing. Quilt. |Source=[ fils i teles]
A Stitch in Time 

Our next creative project for
care-experienced young people will be through the medium of textiles.

Girls in the Foundling Hospital were taught to sew to provide them with a transferable life skill and to set them in good stead when they left. Our archive contains a number of sewing samplers.

Using these and the Foundling girls’ daily rituals as inspiration, participants will create a protest blanket, to call for the change they want to see in the world. This project will be run in partnership with the Foundling Museum.
Watch this space
Surgical Ward at the East London Hospital for Children, London, c.1910, © Barts Health Archives and Museums

A Better Childhood for All Children:
Designing the Modern Space for Sick Children in East London 

Are you interested in how the health of children was managed during the Victorian period?  This online talk will look at the creation of new children’s hospitals in the East End in response to need. 
Thursday 29 July  6 - 7pm.

To register for a free online ticket click here
To learn more about the research behind the talk, click here

Image Charles Dickens Museum
Discover Victorian Streets

Charles Dickens Walking Tour

Our neighbours The Charles Dickens Museum now have a wonderful self-guided tour.

Wander around the streets of Bloomsbury that Dickens would have known, using their guided audio.
Click here to purchase the tour

July challenge

Admission note from Mary Goodacre, Coram Archive.

Help us find the petition for John Brownlow!

John Brownlow was a Foundling with a unique story. John become Secretary of the Foundling Hospital, wrote several books and made the case for improvements to institutions like the Foundling Hospital. You can read all about him here

We have a special mission for you...

The petition letter from John Brownlow’s mother has not been found.
It’s not where it should be. 
Can you find the letter? 

John's mother was called Mary Goodacre and she petitioned for him to be admitted in 1800.You can see the admission note in this image above. 

If you come across this name while transcribing the letters, leave a comment on our special message board here

Or send us an email to 

The Foundling Museum returns

The Museum is open again and taking advanced bookings.
Visit their website here for more information
Alan Stanton - The Foundling Museum

Quentin Blake: Gifted

Explore the emotional landscape of childhood through Blake's stunning art, in a new exhibition at the Foundling Museum.  Click here to book tickets
Visit our Transcriber Hub here
Our Transcriber Hub is a special area on the website just for our transcribers.
Have a look and let us know what else you’d like to see there!

Stories from the Talk message board   

Stories of mothers starting to emerge
The Petition Letters are finally here!
(See our Archivist Update for more information about these.) 

Already we’re starting to get an insight into the lives of mothers who took their children to the Foundling Hospital. The letters describe the often heart-breaking situations of women who needed their children to be cared for. Many names and stories have come up, just in the last few weeks.
Here are a few that have been found so far:

From Foundling Hospital to Foundling Hospital
@SueTall found the petition of mother Thomasine Gilling, who had actually been brought up in the Foundling Hospital herself. The petition explains that Thomasine had been apprenticed and then married a soldier. Her husband had gone abroad to fight and couldn’t cover the costs of looking after their child.

The Foundling Hospital did take Thomasine’s daughter in and Bridget, as she was named, is recorded in the records. 

@mobow also transcribed a character reference for Thomasine, written by the wife of her apprentice master, Mrs Cadogan. @ValThomas then found a further note from Mrs Cadogan asking to be notified if the baby was accepted into the Hospital.  

To see the letter and read more about Thomasine click here

To read about Bridget, see this online booklet created from the Foundling Museum’s exhibition So That They May Be Usefull to Themselves here

Transatlantic Tale
Another great discovery from @SueTall. Kathrine Dutfield came from Boston, America to London. She then had a baby that she hoped the Foundling Hospital could take in. She was already widowed with a 7 year old child. The letter details how she was eager to secure the care of her baby before her brother arrived on a passage from Boston. 

To see this letter and read more about Kathrine click here

Pupils baking, circa 1933, Coram Archive.

Thank you 

It's great to have you with us. Thank you for all your terrific transcriptions.

Let's keep discovering the story of care together.  #RealStoriesOfCare

Molly, Jo and the Voices Through Time team

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