Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Foundling Hospitals

Foundling Hospitals are places where deserted children are received and brought up from funds provided either by charitable individuals or by some public body. The first institution of the kind was established at Milan at the end of the 8th century. Others soon sprung up in Gerrnany, Italy, and France. Of these the Foundling Hospital of Paris is perhaps the most remarkable. Marguerite de Valois had, in 1536, established a home for the enfants trouves who were left in the porch of Notre Dame; a tax for their maintenance had been set apart later; and another home, called the Couche, had been founded by the Bishop of Paris. Great evils, however, attended the management of the last, which were in part remedied by the efforts of St. Vincent de Paul (q.v.). Soon after the foundation of the Paris Hospital, the Couche was amalgamated with it, and Marguerite de Valois's orphanage was joined to both in 1772. The Revolutionary Government declared all enfants trouves "children of the country," and encouraged the reception of them by the offer of a premium to all women who declared themselves mothers of illegitimate children. Under existing regulations the Paris Hospital receives not only foundlings, but those whose parents are known, as well as destitute orphans, and also incorrigible children (enfants moralement abandonnes). After a few days the infants are boarded out with peasants or artisans, the Government granting a subsidy up to their twelfth year, from which time till they come of age they remain under the surveillance of provincial inspectors. Wet-nurses and presents are also sent out by the institution to mothers who need them. Parents may reclaim their children on giving satisfactory proof of their identity; and the adoption of children whose parents are unknown is allowed under satisfactory conditions. Foundlings are now known as enfants assistes at Paris. Of these, the annual number provided for by the hospital is about 4,000; that of the incorrigibles about 1,200. Savings-banks have been established for both. The Foundling Hospital of London owes its existence to Captain Thomas Coram, and is supported by voluntary private contributions. It receives only the illegitimate children of mothers who have previously borne a good character. Of these there are about 500; some are boarded out in the country. Of those who live in the hospital, the girls become domestic servants when they are 14, and the boys go into trade or the army at 16. In Russia the Moscow Foundling Hospital accommodates 13,000 children per annum, and that of St. Petersburg 7,500. Special care is taken with the rearing of prematurely born infants. The regulations are very lax. There are similar institutions in New York, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Ayres, and China. Mortality has been very large in some foundling hospitals. When the Dublin Institution was closed in 1835, the death-rate was 4 in 5; in Russia it has frequently been from 50 to 60 per cent,; and at Vienna has been as high as 75. In France and London it now stands at less than 4 per cent.