150 years of Barnardo's

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01 August 2016
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Martine-headshot-33565.png Martine King
Karen Clare peeks inside Barnardo's unique archives and learns how a family historian might trace a former Barnardo’s child

The Victorian pioneer of children’s homes, Dr Thomas Barnardo, photographed every child in his care, capturing thousands of images of ancestors and snapshots in time of some of the most vulnerable people in society. This year, 2016, the charity celebrates its 150th anniversary and Karen Clare has been lucky enough to get a rare glimpse inside its unique archives. In Family Tree September, Karen reveals how a family historian might trace a former Barnardo’s child and shares some wonderful archive images.

Did you know?

  • Barnardo’s has looked after nearly 400,000 children in its 150 years.
  • From 1946-1966 Barnardo’s supplied all the ball boys for Wimbledon. The youngsters came from Barnardo’s Goldings school in Hertfordshire where they learned a valuable trade to help get them into work. To celebrate the partnership, Barnardo’s worked with Wimbledon Museum and its archive to film old boys talking about their experiences. Some of the former ball boys also returned to Wimbledon this year to share their memories and swap anecdotes.
  • A rose called ‘Sweet Syrie’ was created in memory of Dr Barnardo’s wife Syrie, who worked alongside him setting up the first home for girls, and it was shown at the 2016 Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. See www.barnardos.org.uk/150-take-part/150-syrie-rose.html.
  • A garden party was held at Buckingham Palace in May, attended by 500 former Barnardo’s children, staff and volunteers. The Queen is the charity’s Patron (a role previously enjoyed by the Queen Mother). The event saw the reunion of two step-brothers after 40 years and best friends who had not clapped eyes on one another for half a century.

Watch the video below to find out more about how Barnardo's Archive Manager Martine King and her team assist researchers with family history enquiries.

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Don't forget to get your copy of the September issue of Family Tree to find out more about tracing a Barnardo's child.