Bloomsbury Cultural History
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Victorian Women, Unwed Mothers and the London Foundling Hospital

Victorian Women, Unwed Mothers and the London Foundling Hospital

by Jessica A. Sheetz-Nguyen

Jessica Sheetz-Nguyen is Associate Professor of History at the University of Central Oklahoma, US. She teaches Women’s History from a European and international perspective. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Continuum, 2012
  • DOI:
    10.5040/9781350048966
  • ISBN:
    978-1-3500-4896-6 (online)

    978-1-4411-1092-3 (hardback)

    978-1-4411-4112-5 (paperback)

    978-1-4411-3168-3 (epdf)

    978-1-4411-9454-1 (epub)
  • Edition:
    First Edition
  • Place of Publication:
    London
  • Published Online:
    2018
Victorian Women, Unwed Mothers and the London Foundling Hospital
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This volume seeks to address the questions of poverty, charity, and public welfare, taking the nineteenth-century London Foundling Hospital as its focus. It delineates the social rules that constructed the gendered world of the Victorian age, and uses ‘respectability’ as a factor for analysis: the women who successfully petitioned the Foundling Hospital for admission of their infants were not East End prostitutes, but rather unmarried women, often domestic servants, determined to maintain social respectability. The administrators of the Foundling Hospital reviewed over two hundred petitions annually; deliberated on about one hundred cases; and accepted not more than 25 per cent of all cases. Using primary material from the Foundling Hospital’s extensive archives, this study moves methodically from the broad social and geographical context of London and the Foundling Hospital itself, to the micro-historical case data of individual mothers and infants.