Helen Berry: “Problems with philanthropy in eighteenth-century Britain: industry, empire and the fate of London’s foundlings” (18/04)

Helen Berry (Université de Newcastle), “Problems with philanthropy in eighteenth-century Britain: industry, empire and the fate of London’s foundlings”. Jeudi 18 avril 2019 de 17h30 à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421

«  Helen Berry’s new book Orphans of Empire: the Fate of London’s Foundlings (Oxford: OUP, 2019) tells the story of what happened to the thousands of children who were raised at the London Foundling Hospital, Coram’s brainchild, which opened in 1741 and grew to become the most famous charity in Georgian England. It provides vivid insights into the lives and fortunes of London’s poorest children, from the earliest days of the Foundling Hospital to the mid-Victorian era, when Charles Dickens was moved by his observations of the charity’s work to campaign on behalf of orphans. Through the lives of London’s foundlings, this book provides readers with a street-level insight into the wider global history of a period of monumental change in British history as the nation grew into the world’s leading superpower. Some foundling children were destined for Britain’s ‘outer Empire’ overseas, but many more toiled in the ‘inner Empire’, labouring in the cotton mills and factories of northern England at the dawn of the new industrial age.

Through extensive archival research, Helen Berry uncovers previously untold stories of what happened to former foundlings, including the suffering and small triumphs they experienced as child workers during the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution. Sometimes, using many different fragments of evidence, the voices of the children themselves emerge. Extracts from George King’s autobiography, the only surviving first-hand account written by a Foundling Hospital child born in the eighteenth century, published here for the first time, provide touching insights into how he came to terms with his upbringing. Remarkably he played a part in Trafalgar, one of the most iconic battles in British Naval history. His personal courage and resilience in overcoming the disadvantages of his birth form a lasting testimony to the strength of the human spirit. »   

Répondant : Isabelle Robin, Sorbonne Université

Emily Baughan : “International adoption and Anglo-American Internationalism c1918-1945” (15/12)

Emily Baughan, de l’université de Bristol, présentera sa communication “International adoption and Anglo-American Internationalism c1918-1945” le jeudi 15 décembre de 17h30 à 19h30. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, 75006, salle D421.

Résumé :
“The plight of children became symbolic of the disintegration of European society during the First World War and the conflagrations that bookended it: the Armenian Genocide and the Russian Civil War. Breaking free from the laws of war presumed to undergird conflict in ‘civilised’ European societies, the violence of the early-twentieth century directly targeted civilians. In this context, children’s suffering took on a broader symbolic meaning, and ‘rescued’ children became a powerful metaphor for European reconstruction and hopes for a peaceful, prosperous future. Children – the workers and citizens of tomorrow – were essential for the future prosperity of their own nations, and, by extension, for the mutual security of the international order.  This article examines the centrality of children to the ‘new internationalism’ of the years following the First World War, as expressed by a host of prominent British and American humanitarian organisations. While international adoption and child sponsorship programmes seem, on the surface, to exemplify the spirit of progressive internationalism, this paper argues that they typified the often-regressive vision of interwar relief work. By helping children, humanitarian organisations sought to reinscribe older class-based and ethnic orderings of society in a chaotic post-war world. Child welfare programmes reveal the essentially conservative basis of Anglo-American internationalism in the interwar era. The ‘new world order’ that internationalist humanitarians sought to create was not new at all.

Kathryn Gleadle, “Juvenile agency and the making of political elites: subversion and the childhood archive of Eva Knatchbull-Hugessen (1861-95)”

Kathryn Gleadle, de l’Université d’Oxford, présentera sa communication “Juvenile agency and the making of political elites:  subversion and the childhood archive of Eva Knatchbull-Hugessen (1861-95)” le jeudi 4 février de 17h à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421.

En raison des contrôles de sécurité, les personnes extérieures à Paris IV souhaitant assister à ce séminaire sont invitées à se munir d’une carte d’étudiant ou d’une carte professionnelle, ou encore d’une carte d’identité et de cette annonce imprimée.

Discutante : Myriam Boussahba-Bravard (Paris-Diderot)

Podcast ci-dessous et sur le site de l’IHR:


The nineteenth century was the age of writing and Victorians were avid archivists of their own words. What is especially striking is the extent to which juvenile material was incorporated within family collections. As Sanchez-Eppler has observed [2005], the universality and temporary nature of childhood makes it an especially valuable tool with which to probe the construction of class and identity. Juvenile texts enable us to explore how these subjectivities were expressed and reaffirmed in familial manuscript practices. In so doing it will consider how children themselves were active participants in the creation of family and literary cultures. In the process, the young not only passively reproduced, but also questioned, mimicked and satirised family norms. Continuer la lecture