In 2008 the Foundling Museum received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to run an oral history project, Foundling Voices. The project recorded interviews with 74 people who grew up in the care of the Hospital in the first half of the twentieth century. We also interviewed one teacher, children and partners of Foundling pupils and townspeople from Berkhamsted who could remember the school.
Those that we interviewed were very generous in lending photographs, letters and other documents relating to their experiences.
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.
To learn more about the project and hear the stories of former pupils please visit the Foundling Voices website
Foundling Voices Exhibition
A six month exhibition showcasing material collected through the project was on show at the Foundling Museum from 14 April - 30 October 2011. The exhibition focused on tales from former Hospital pupils that looked at family separation, the stigma of illegitimacy, a spartan school education, wartime heroism and the search for birth mothers. The exhibition was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the four-year project. The exhibition was divided into five themes: Early Life, School Life, Into the World, Search for Birth Families and Reflections, and each one was illustrated with memories and detailed extracts from the foundlings’ personal stories.