Coram has received a grant of £1.26 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to enable the digitisation of a major portion of our archive.

Coram’s Foundling Hospital archive, which is held at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), is fragile and vulnerable, in part due to its status as one of LMA’s most popular holdings. Formed of more than 245m of records, it reveals the details of the lives of children in its care from the 18th Century. From this, we will digitise some 112,000 images, a quarter of the archive, which is unbroken to the present day.

This will be part of a four-year project, Voices Through Time: The Story of Care, which will secure access to precious materials including Petition Letters from mothers seeking entry to the Foundling Hospital for their children and the Hospital Billet Books containing fabric tokens they left with their children as identifiers should they ever be able to come back and reclaim them. These will be safeguarded for future generations and brought to life for new audiences who will be able to view them online for the first time.

Young people in and leaving care today will undertake creative projects, using the archive material to illuminate the past, gain new skills and build public understanding of the issues of separation and care which continue even now. More than 100 young people will be directly involved, working with creative partners through writing, theatre, film and displays, connecting the stories from the past with their experiences of the present.

The archive documents will be transcribed with the support of a global community of volunteers and will be made accessible to the general public at here on the Coram Story site, along with stories and content from the projects created by care-experienced young people, and an online interactive timeline of care.