During the late 18th century women who, for whatever reason, couldn’t care for their babies could take them to The London Foundling Hospital.
The idea was that the hospital would care for the babies until the mothers were ready to come back and get their children – sadly, many of them never did. However, in hopes that these women would be able to return one day, they put a system in place. No names were recorded, instead each mother left a piece of fabric that was unique in some way. Part of the fabric was left in the baby’s file, and the other piece was taken by the mother. This would prove which baby was hers when, and if, she returned. Over 16,000 children were left there between 1741 and 1760. These beautiful, and unbelievably sad, images are from the hospital’s records during that time.
The final image is a view of the Foundling Hospital from 1750.