In 2008 the Foundling Museum, which tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, 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. The audio interviews and their accompanying transcripts are stored at the London Metropolitan Archives, where they can be accessed by members of the public. Copies of the transcripts are also held at Holborn Archives, the Surrey History Centre and Dacorum Heritage Trust in Berkhamsted.
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.
A six month exhibition showcasing material collected through the project will open at the Foundling Museum on 14 April 2011. Additional materials produced by the project, including a play suitable for performance by youth theatre groups, can be downloaded from the Resources section.