Unexplored Riches in Medical History at The Children’s Society Archive

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In this guest post, Janine Stanford updates us on the Unexplored Riches in Medical History Project at the Children’s Society Archive.

The Children’s Society’s Unexplored Riches in Medical History project has received a second grant of £102,309 from the Wellcome Trust’s Research Resources scheme.

The project, now in its second year, has been making great advances in cataloguing and conserving the records of the residential homes that The Children’s Society ran for almost 100 years, until the 1970s, and the case files of the children who stayed in them.

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Four boys giving themselves an injection at St George’s Home for Diabetic Boys, Kersal, Lancashire, c.1950s

In particular, the project is focusing on the wealth of information about child health and the effects of poverty contained in these records. This will help to shed light on the history of childhood diseases, treatments, medical care and social health in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The first part of the project has found that before the establishment of the NHS, many families had to seek help from charities such as The Children’s Society as they could not afford to give their children vital medical treatment, and some families were pushed into poverty directly because of medical costs.

Historically, The Children’s Society helped to provide medical treatment for these families, and the records shed light on the experiences of children with diseases such as tuberculosis, rickets, pneumonia and heart conditions.

By creating an online archive catalogue and through conservation work the records will be widely accessible to medical, social and academic researchers the post-care community and the general public, amongst others.

Volunteers and Staff cleaning the Case Files

Volunteers and Staff cleaning the Case Files

Thanks to the recent grant from the Wellcome Trust, which takes the current total funding from the Trust to £211,124, the Unexplored Riches in Medical History project is able to build on what has already been completed. Through the project, The Children’s Society will be able to open up access to its valuable records and promote important research into medical history, social history, and the history of childhood poverty and neglect.

For more information about the Unexplored Riches in Medical History project, including a blog showcasing items found within the collection, please visit the project’s web pages.

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