The project, now in its second year, has been making great advances in cataloguing and conserving the records of the residential homes that The Children's Society ran for almost 100 years (up to the 1970s) and the case files of the children who stayed in them.
The project focuses on the wealth of information about child health and the effects of poverty contained in these records. This will help to shed light on the history of childhood diseases, treatments, medical care and social health in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The first part of the project has found that before the NHS was established, many families had to seek help from charities such as The Children's Society because they could not give their children vital medical treatment. Some families were pushed into poverty directly because of medical costs.
Historically, The Children's Society helped to provide medical treatment for these families, and the records shed light on the experiences of children with health problems such as tuberculosis, rickets, pneumonia and heart conditions, among others.
By creating an online archive catalogue and through conservation work, the records will be widely accessible to medical, social and academic researchers, the post-care community and the general public.
Thanks to the recent grant from the Wellcome Trust, which takes the current total funding from the Trust to £211,124, the Unexplored Riches in Medical History project will be able to build on the work that has already been completed. Through the project, The Children's Society can open up access to its valuable records and promote research into medical history, social history, and the history of childhood poverty and neglect.