Unexplored Riches in Medical History – in action!

I’ve got something exciting to share with you today. The Unexplored Riches in Medical History project has now been captured on film!

In a short video that has been produced by the Wellcome Trust, Ian Wakeling, the head of The Children’s Society Archive, gives a really great introduction to the Unexplored Riches in Medical History project.


Have a watch and see us all in action! And, more importantly, see some of the wonderful archive documents that we’re working on.

Unexplored Riches in Medical History

Hello! For those of you not familiar with this blog, let me introduce myself. My name is Janine and I previously spent a year working on the ‘Including the Excluded’ project to catalogue the records of The Children’s Society that relate to the care of disabled children. (For blog entries about the ‘Including the Excluded’ project, please select the ‘Including the Excluded’ category on the sidebar.)

Today, I would like to introduce you to a project we are currently working on at The Children’s Society Records and Archives Centre called ‘Unexplored Riches in Medical History’. This project aims to catalogue, preserve and make available the records of The Children’s Society that shed light on all areas of medical history. It has been funded by the Wellcome Trust’s Research Resources in Medical History (RRMH) grants scheme.

Four boys giving themselves an injection at St George's Home for Diabetic Boys, Kersal, Manchester, Lancashire, c1950s

The Children’s Society ran a network of children’s homes for poor and disadvantaged children from its founding in 1881 until the 1970s. The records of The Children’s Society document how the work of The Children’s Society was carried out and can help to explain what life was like for children in care during the 19th and 20th centuries.

It may not be initially obvious, but hidden amongst the records are a wealth of primary resources about medical history. One of the main concerns of The Children’s Society was to ensure that the children in its care were healthy and well, and this is reflected in the way it worked and the documents that survive.

From children’s case files that detail the health and vaccination history of individual children, to the records of children’s homes, discussing topics as varied as outbreaks of diseases and guidelines for diet, The Children’s Society’s archive contains a lot of information about medical history that has not yet been researched or explored.

The ‘Unexplored Riches in Medical History’ project aims to make this information more accessible by preserving, cataloguing and indexing part of The Children’s Society’s archive, so that in the future more people will be able to use this valuable resource.

This blog will be used to cover the project in more detail and to highlight just some of the fascinating items that are found amongst the collection.

Including the Excluded

Hello and welcome to the Including the Excluded blog. My name is Janine and I’m the archivist working on this project for The Children’s Society’s Records and Archives Centre.

The aim of Including the Excluded is to catalogue records that relate to The Children’s Society’s work with disabled children. This project has been funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives and started when I was recruited in June 2011. It is set to run for twelve months and so will be completed in June of this year.

Including the Excluded is a wonderful opportunity to make the records of disabled children more accessible. Cataloguing and repackaging these records will help us to discover and document the information we hold, and so promote research into the care of disabled children over the past 130 years. Our aim is to make this important history more widely available, not just to academic researchers, but to everyone, including disabled children and young people themselves.

The Children’s Society was founded in 1881 by Edward Rudolf, who wanted to help the vulnerable children he saw around him in Victorian Britain. In its early history, The Children’s Society (then known as The Waifs and Strays Society) did this by running a network of children’s homes for poor and disadvantaged children. By the mid-1970s, the work of The Children’s Society had evolved away from children’s homes to focus on more innovative types of social work and child care. Throughout all this, from 1881 to the present day, The Children’s Society has helped disabled children, often pioneering in this field.

It is The Children’s Society’s influential work with disabled children that is the focus of the Including the Excluded project. Over the course of the next few months, I will be using this blog to document my progress and share some of the fascinating insights and stories that I come across while working on this project.

If you would like more information about Including the Excluded, please take a look at the project web pages.