Chosen by Sofia, a Tracing Our Tales graduate

About the object

From the very first days that the Foundling Hospital was open, identity numbers were attached to each child. At first these were made of lead, but the Governors soon introduced more robust pewter numbers made like rivets to join two ends of a lace, or cord, around the child’s neck. In the twentieth century, identity number discs were made from a form of plastic. The identity number was the key piece of information which would enable a child to be connected to admission records, and so ensure that if a child were reclaimed, the right child could be returned to their family. This particular disc belonged to Robert Usherwood (1933-2010) who was at the Berkhamsted School. Robert joined the army as an apprentice on leaving school and served in Malaya and then Cyprus as a paratrooper. He then worked in factories building buses and taxis before joining the New Zealand Army and emigrating there.

Identity Disc for Robert Usherwood, admitted 1933, c.1920s plastic