Foundling Voices oral history project

The Foundling Voices project brings together the stories of people who grew up in the care of the Foundling Hospital in the first half of the 20th century.

Foundling children singing around a pianoThe project, which was funded with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, comprises oral history interviews with 74 former Foundling pupils, plus one teacher, the children and partners of the Foundling pupils and townspeople from Berkhamsted who could remember the school.

Interviews with former Foundling pupils

The audio interviews and their accompanying transcripts are stored at the London Metropolitan Archives, where they can be accessed by members of the public.

Most interviews are between two and four hours long. They follow a life story format, covering people's early lives spent with foster families in the countryside, the years they spent living in the Foundling Hospital from the age of 5–14 and the experience of leaving the Hospital and making their way in the world. Later experiences including meeting partners, starting families and the searches that people made for their birth families are also covered.

...as we got into the school gates I said: 'I will be able to come home tonight, won't I?' And as we got off the coach the boys were shepherded one way, the girls the other. And she said: 'Be a good girl' and she kissed me and she was gone. - Ruth, who went to the Foundling Hospital School in Berkhamsted in 1942

The foundling story in film

Several films highlighting different aspects of the foundling story were made as part of the Foundling Voices project. These films combine sound extracts from the oral history interviews with photographs from the Foundling Hospital archive or images lent to us by former pupils

You can listen to excerpts from the oral history interviews and view the films on the Foundling Voices website.

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