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Many are just rough notes, bearing pinholes where they had been attached to swaddling clothes. I am without means and without relatives to nurse my baby.

I remain your humble servant. The notes arrived with abandoned infants, many of them left in a plain wicker basket at the entrance to what is now known as the New York Foundling, the year-old family services agency in Manhattan. Now, the entire collection โ€” a trove of documents, photographs and memorabilia that sheds new light on a dark chapter of the New York that was โ€” is going public for the first time.

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The New York Foundling Asylum was created in an era of minimal child welfare bureaucracies, when newborns were routinely abandoned on the mean streets, in church entrances or on the doorsteps of the wealthy. It was a time when an estimated 30, homeless children populated the city.

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The Foundling began boarding babies with volunteer families almost immediately and initiated adoptions in For decades, it sheltered unmarried expectant mothers and their babies, and it established a pediatric hospital in By , 27, children had passed through its doors. The need has hardly evaporated.

Kate Middleton arrives at the Foundling Museum

Since December, he has been reviewing and organizing the archive as a member of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, a Jesuit-run program dedicated to service and spirituality. The Foundling intends to create an archival center and put all of the materials on its Web site in time for its th anniversary in Steven H. Although the poorly coordinated system was later deemed Dickensian, it was a vast improvement over utter abandonment, he said.

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On a recent afternoon, Mr. Reilly cracked open a ledger book that documented 2, babies who were dropped off at the Foundling from October to November โ€” many of them left in the legendary cradle that was placed outside its brownstone on East 12th Street off Fifth Avenue. New discoveries in the collection include an leather-bound ledger, with entries in the spidery black penmanship of Sister Mary Irene Fitzgibbons, the founder of the institution. The archive includes admissions registers, annual reports, newspaper clippings dating to , dozens of scrapbooks and hundreds of books and videotapes.

Tragic story of the last boy to be brought up in Foundling Hospital

Some messages, like one from , suggest life-threatening abandonment. Another adornment of the collection is a replica of the long-disintegrated wicker cradle where mothers left their babies. View all New York Times newsletters. The Foundling continued the cradle tradition when it relocated to 3 Washington Square North.

The Tokens and the Foundlings

In , the agency moved to a red-brick building partially financed by the Legislature that filled the block from 68th to 69th Streets between Lexington and Third Avenues. In , it moved to Third Avenue, where the Foundling stayed for 30 years before moving to its current headquarters at Avenue of the Americas, at 17th Street. Many city welfare agencies, including the Foundling, lauded the practice as wholesome rural salvation. Some of the children were trained in the trades, others were adopted. Ultimately the child-protection system of which the Foundling was a part was assailed by child-development researchers, who said that institutional care deprived children of maternal care, and by reformers who saw rampant inequities in assigning children to religious-based agencies.

There was increasing pressure to place foster children in permanent homes through adoption. Under city contracts, it has 13, children in foster care in 44 programs in the five boroughs. It also has programs for children and developmentally disabled adults in Rockland and Westchester Counties and in Puerto Rico. All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3. Skip to Main Content. Search our website Search our records.

Urban Dictionary: foundling

View lesson as PDF View full image. Lesson at a glance. What were conditions like for children in the care of the Foundling Hospital? Tasks Extract from a handbook for staff of the Foundlings hospital. Questions What does this show about how the hospital was run, in terms of the registration, organisation and the leaving of children at the hospital?


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What was the first thing that that happened to the children when they were admitted? What could mothers leave at the Hospital with their child? Where did the children go after they had been registered? What was the mother given by the Hospital? How do you think a mother feel about leaving her child at the hospital? Why would the Hospital need such a handbook? Questions What happened to children when they reached the age of five? How is this different to your experience of school?

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How much time did children spend learning, playing or worshipping each week? Children were kept separate for the purposes of their education. Why do you think this was? Why was there so much emphasis on religion and attending church? How did the hospital view the future for these children? Questions Who do you think might have used the waiting rooms? What provisions were made for the children to play? Where did boys and girls eat?

Why do you think they had a chapel? Why do you think the boys had a summer dining room? What might the Sunday office have been used for? Questions Is there anything missing from this diet? How does this compare to modern day food? Guidance given to Hospital staff on how to apprentice a child. Why would the wife of the household be required to approve a child to be an apprentice? Why were children not apprenticed to lodging houses?


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