This Volunteers’ Week, we are appreciating our volunteers’ commitment to the Voices Through Time: The Story of Care programme more than ever.

This month marks a special anniversary: it’s now three years since volunteers first started working on Coram’s Voices Through Time: The Story of Care programme, which is made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Three years since transcription began

In June 2020 we began the project to transcribe digitised records from Coram’s Foundling Hospital Archive with a pilot phase. 20 people volunteered their time to test out the crowdsourcing platform we planned to use for the transcription project. Thanks to their crucial feedback, we were able to develop the project, iron out its kinks and make it as engaging for people as possible.

Since then, volunteers have continued to make the project thrive, by transcribing, sharing and discussing these records from the Foundling Hospital. To date, more than 3,700 people have logged on to transcribe.

Alongside transcribing, volunteers have become engaged in the Foundling Hospital’s history, collecting and researching records on the project’s online community. Through this they have created an invaluable resource for transcribers, researchers and other volunteers, leading to a range of findings and stories uncovered.

Finding Foundling stories

Their discoveries have informed the work of another group of dedicated volunteers involved in the programme’s Stories of Interest project. In 2022, nine students joined the project to uncover stories of real young people who grew up at the Foundling Hospital. Through research in the archive, and by utilising findings from transcribers, they uncovered a host of Foundling stories, which they developed into written articles published on this website.

Uncovering mothers’ lives

In addition, in 2022, over 160 enthusiastic volunteers from the adult learning organisation University of the Third Age (u3a) worked on a third Voices Through Time project. In this shared learning project, u3a volunteers transcribed and researched mothers who petitioned the Foundling Hospital, resulting in 3,300 transcripts of petition letters and 140 research pieces being completed.

Outstanding achievements

Thanks to this incredible commitment and passion:

  • Over 27,000 pages of Foundling Hospital records have been transcribed, which will be made available online next year, alongside the digital images of the records. This will allow anyone to access them for free, for research, education, creative work, or any other purpose.
  • More than 10 interesting Foundling life stories have been discovered, which are now articles available to read here: Foundling Stories
  • Volunteers have transcribed nine series of records: General Registers, Branch Hospital Registers, Baptism Registers, Nursery Books, Inspection Books, Apprenticeship Registers, Daily and House Committee Minutes, General Court rough minutes, Sub-committee minutes and Petitions admitted to ballot.

Volunteering continues

And the hard work continues. Each month, 400 volunteers are logging on to the transcription project to complete meticulous transcripts of the tenth series of records: Petitions admitted.

This spring, 10 new Stories of Interest Volunteers began research into Foundling lives, and they will be turning their findings into written pieces over the summer.

Thank you

Coram’s Voices Through Time team would like to express their appreciation, admiration and gratitude for each and every volunteer. The programme would not have achieved what it has without everyone who has been involved, both this year and from the very beginning.

Thank you

From the Voices Through Time: The Story of Care team