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22 September 2015

notebook copy

The new exhibition at the Foundling Hospital tells the stories of some of the mothers who had to abandon their babies and describes the process of abandonment. There is the porter’s lodge book, which notes the age and description of every caller. There are the receipts given to a mother if her child was accepted. There is the list of questions each petitioner had to answer (this agony was well evoked in the television adaptation of An Inspector Calls last week). And when the baby was accepted it received a ‘billet’ book listing its possessions, plus a ‘token’, in this case a scrap of fabric, given by mother so she could identify the child again. (These billets were initially folded and sealed, hence the crease marks, but then opened and bound into a book in the 19th century.)

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