Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text


Or browse the homes by name

Between its foundation in 1881 and the end of the First World War, the Waifs and Strays' Society cared for around 22,500 children. The Society opened its first children's home at Dulwich in 1882, and by 1918 it had run nearly 175 homes all around England and Wales. Some of these homes were only open for a few years, while others operated for decades.

They varied from small cottage homes in rural locations to homes in the big cities of London, Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool. Industrial homes, like Standon Farm Home, would teach children a trade, so that they could support themselves in later life. Children with disabilities were integrated in homes, but the Society also had specialist centres that could specifically care for their needs. All ages of children were cared for by the Society - while some homes cared for the youngest babies, others like Clapham Home Of Rest For Girls Out Of Situation, provided shelter for those aged between 15 and 21.

From here you can search or browse through the histories of these homes. They are illustrated with original photographs and drawings if they exist in our collections. There are also links to fully anonymised case files of some of the children and young people that the Society cared for in these homes.

The Children's Society UNESCO logo Big
           Lottery Fund logo Wellcome Trust