The Foundlings

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Nominated for the 2005 Norma Fleck Award

Thousands of mothers carried their babies to the gates of the Foundling Hospital desperate to save them from the cruel streets of eighteenth-century London. Each baby was left with a personal “token” – identification if a repentant mother ever returned to reclaim her child.

Captain Thomas Coram, himself childless, was inspired by the sight of babies abandoned on dung ...

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Nominated for the 2005 Norma Fleck Award

Thousands of mothers carried their babies to the gates of the Foundling Hospital desperate to save them from the cruel streets of eighteenth-century London. Each baby was left with a personal “token” – identification if a repentant mother ever returned to reclaim her child.

Captain Thomas Coram, himself childless, was inspired by the sight of babies abandoned on dung heaps to petition the king for support in building a home for England’s poorest children. Coram’s vision saved countless children’s lives.

A Home for Foundlings describes the hospital Captain Coram founded, the luminaries involved – including Handel, Hogarth, and Dickens – and the daily lives of the foundlings themselves.

Full of archival photos and materials, and published in cooperation with the newly established Foundling Museum in London and Lord Cultural Resources, A Home for Foundlings is a fascinating, heartbreaking, and timely book. Author Marthe Jocelyn’s text has particular resonance: her grandfather, Arthur Jocelyn, was raised in the Foundling Hospital.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A heartbreaking book… extensively researched… presents information in a way that is respectful of the people and the situation… story and photos convey a fascinating part of history… Jocelyn writes feelingly without any sentimentality.”
-Jury Comment (Norma Fleck Award)
Publishers Weekly
A Home for Foundlings by Marthe Jocelyn lays out the problem of the growing number of orphans in 18th-century London, and describes the indefatigable efforts of one Captain Thomas Coram, who established a hospital to care for these abandoned youth. The author describes the challenges for the children (smallpox and other pre-Industrial Age health hazards, cruelty at the hands of "adoptive" parents) and the oasis that Coram's hospital-now a museum-provided. Period etchings and photographs give readers a flavor of the era. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
During the 1700s in London, England, abandoned babies became a problem because there were no safe refuges in which to place these foundlings. Horrified by the sight of unwanted babies left for dead in garbage heaps, Thomas Coram petitioned the king to start a charity to provide a shelter to care for these children; thus the Foundling Hospital was born. Over the next two hundred years, thousands of children were brought to this hospital by their desperate mothers. The book begins with a history of the founding of the hospital and then describes the day-to-day life of a foundling in great and very fascinating detail, describing the meals that they ate, the clothes that they wore, their furniture, the lessons that they learned at school, the medicine that they took, and the chores that they performed. This fascinating tribute to the legacy of the Foundling Hospital and the lives of the children it saved is published in cooperation with the newly established Foundling Museum in London. It is an excellent snapshot of the life of a foundling and full of archival photos and materials that complement the easy-to-read text. The author ends by telling the story of her own grandfather, who was raised in the Foundling Hospital. It is this personal connection to the history that makes Jocelyn's book resonate with the reader. Her research is heartfelt and it shows in her work. VOYA CODES: 5Q 2P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005, Tundra, 128p.; Glossary. Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. Chronology., Trade pb. Ages 11 to 15.
—Julie Roberts
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-Inspired by a desire to learn about her grandfather's childhood in an English orphanage, Jocelyn unearthed the history of London's Foundling Hospital for the Maintenance and Education of Exposed and Deserted Young Children. Founded in 1739 by retired shipbuilder Thomas Coram, the institution took in babies whose desperate mothers might otherwise have abandoned them and trained them to be useful citizens who would serve in the British military or work as domestic servants. Among the hospital's famous benefactors were the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel, who raised enormous amounts of money by performing the Messiah there year after year. Because of the excellent education they received, many of the children went on to have musical careers. In its more than 210 years of operation, the facility cared for approximately 27,000 children. After World War II, a change in the philosophy resulted in the orphans being placed in foster families, and the Hospital closed in 1953. Black-and-white reproductions of early admission documents and ledgers as well as period photographs and engravings appear throughout. This is a useful resource for large collections or those with a particular emphasis on the history of childhood or agencies serving children.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887767098
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Series: A Lord Museum Book Series
  • Pages: 120
  • Age range: 3 months - 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Marthe Jocelyn is an award-winning author and illustrator who worked for many years as a toy designer before turning her hand to writing. Although this is her first work of nonfiction, she has written five novels, including the critically acclaimed works of historical fiction Mable Riley and Earthly Astonishments. Marthe Jocelyn lives in New York City and Stratford, Ontario with her husband, artist Tom Slaughter, and their daughters.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2005

    Great Read!

    A Home For Foundlings is a beautifully written and incredibly informative book. Marthe Jocelyn manages to use the history of the Foundling Home to give a sense of the greater social history of England from the 18th century through the early twentieth century, particularly as regards the situations of women and children. At the same time the book is fun to read! The many photographs and illustrations are beautiful and fascinating, and the historical detail is carefully sifted through so that it is interesting, memorable and accessible. The stories of individual foundlings are very poignant. Even kids who aren't history buffs will enjoy this book very much; those who like history will be enthralled.

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