I found an article in one of the Popular Patchwork magazines, about the foundling hospital exhibition at the foundling museum, they are showing the tokens left with the children as proof of parentage, so that if circumstances allowed they might be able to go and reclaim their child.

Threads of Feeling

By Gemma Colgan

Fabric swatches from the 18th Century tell stories of mothers and babies parting. Exhibition at the Foundlings Museum, London, 14 October 2010 to 6 March 2011.

The Foundling Museum, London, celebrates the opening of a new and highly emotive exhibition entitled Threads of Feeling. The exhibition will showcase fabrics never shown before to illustrate the moment of parting as mothers left their babies at the original Foundling Hospital, which continues today as the children’s charity Coram.
 
‘A bunch of 4 ribbons narrow – Yellow, Blue, Green, & Pink’ © Coram
‘A bunch of 4 ribbons narrow – Yellow, Blue, Green, & Pink’ © Coram
 
In the cases of more than 4,000 babies left between 1741 and 1760, a small object or token, usually a piece of fabric, was kept as an identifying record. The fabric was either provided by the mother or cut from the child’s clothing by the hospital’s nurses. Attached to registration forms and bound up into ledgers, these pieces of fabric form the largest collection of everyday textiles surviving in Britain from the 18th Century
 
A selection of the textiles and the stories they tell us about individual babies, their mothers and their lives forms the focus of the Threads of Feeling exhibition. The exhibition will also examine artist William Hogarth’s depictions of the clothes, ribbons, embroidery and fabrics worn in the 18th Century as represented by the textile tokens. 
A selection of the textiles and the stories they tell us about individual babies, their mothers and their lives forms the focus of the Threads of Feeling exhibition. The exhibition will also examine artist William Hogarth’s depictions of the clothes, ribbons, embroidery and fabrics worn in the 18th Century as represented by the textile tokens.
 

The textiles are usually printed scraps of fashionable cottons, but are sometimes garments, the article said that the quality of the stitching belies the myth that all girls could sew beautifully in the Victorian Era, as most was extremely basic, these textiles are imbued with huge meaning which is palpable, and extremely moving several centuries later.

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This entry was published on January 5, 2011 at 10:44 am and is filed under Inspired. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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