This in-focus display explored the treatment and care of disabled children by the Foundling Hospital in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Records reveal the Hospital was ground-breaking in its approach to access, demonstrated by the education and care it gave to disabled children in its custody. In some cases this led to lifelong support, even into old age. From the beginning, the Hospital admitted children from a variety of different backgrounds and with varying abilities. In order to provide for and to develop children who had physical or learning difficulties the Governors devised different methods to ensure they had the best chance in life. A modern approach was applied; Hospital staff delivered financial, medical and educational care to remove barriers that might have disadvantaged the children. Concentrating on what they could achieve, rather than what they could not, helped children with disabilities to flourish and to become ‘usefull to themselves’.

Highlighting new research on this little-explored area, this display was inspired and curated by the Museum’s volunteers, supported by the Visitor Engagement team.