Go gentle babe: Accounting and the London Foundling Hospital 1757–97

Frances Miley, Andrew READ

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The London Foundling Hospital was a charitable institution established to turn children of the poor into virtuous and industrious members of society. Poverty-stricken parents gave their children, known as foundlings, to the hospital which cared for and educated them until they could be placed into employment. Since eighteenth-century Britain stigmatized and marginalized the poor, viewing them as immoral and indigent. An important aspect of the charity’s function was (re)creating stigmatized foundling identities so they could leave the hospital as accepted members of mainstream society. This research examines the role of accounting in supporting the hospital’s efforts to (re)create stigmatized identities. We examine the plethora of records the hospital maintained about every aspect of the children’s lives, which were both mechanisms of surveillance and control and evidence of the hospital’s successful efforts in moulding the foundlings into virtuous and industrious members of society. The hospital did not distinguish between financial and non-financial records, ensuring both were regularly reviewed and audited before being made available to selected members of the public. We contrast the public availability of these records, which evidenced hospital (re)created identities, with the hospital’s secrecy surrounding tokens, small items given by a parent when hospitalizing a child. We contend that the tokens were a form of accounting record that represented stigmatized identities of the poor and had to be hidden so they could be replaced with (re)created acceptable identities. We conclude that examining accounting records maintained by the hospital provides insights into the role accounting can play in supporting the work of charitable institutions seeking to create social acceptability for stigmatized groups.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-184
    Number of pages18
    JournalAccounting History
    Volume21
    Issue number2-3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Fingerprint

    Acceptability
    Poverty
    Secrecy
    18th century
    Surveillance

    Cite this

    Miley, Frances ; READ, Andrew. / Go gentle babe: Accounting and the London Foundling Hospital 1757–97. In: Accounting History. 2016 ; Vol. 21, No. 2-3. pp. 167-184.
    @article{92f3f31367cc400aa3c798570190d431,
    title = "Go gentle babe: Accounting and the London Foundling Hospital 1757–97",
    abstract = "The London Foundling Hospital was a charitable institution established to turn children of the poor into virtuous and industrious members of society. Poverty-stricken parents gave their children, known as foundlings, to the hospital which cared for and educated them until they could be placed into employment. Since eighteenth-century Britain stigmatized and marginalized the poor, viewing them as immoral and indigent. An important aspect of the charity’s function was (re)creating stigmatized foundling identities so they could leave the hospital as accepted members of mainstream society. This research examines the role of accounting in supporting the hospital’s efforts to (re)create stigmatized identities. We examine the plethora of records the hospital maintained about every aspect of the children’s lives, which were both mechanisms of surveillance and control and evidence of the hospital’s successful efforts in moulding the foundlings into virtuous and industrious members of society. The hospital did not distinguish between financial and non-financial records, ensuring both were regularly reviewed and audited before being made available to selected members of the public. We contrast the public availability of these records, which evidenced hospital (re)created identities, with the hospital’s secrecy surrounding tokens, small items given by a parent when hospitalizing a child. We contend that the tokens were a form of accounting record that represented stigmatized identities of the poor and had to be hidden so they could be replaced with (re)created acceptable identities. We conclude that examining accounting records maintained by the hospital provides insights into the role accounting can play in supporting the work of charitable institutions seeking to create social acceptability for stigmatized groups.",
    keywords = "accounting history, charitable institutions, Foundling Hospital, identity, stigma, tokens",
    author = "Frances Miley and Andrew READ",
    year = "2016",
    doi = "10.1177/1032373216644259",
    language = "English",
    volume = "21",
    pages = "167--184",
    journal = "Accounting History",
    issn = "1032-3732",
    publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
    number = "2-3",

    }

    Go gentle babe: Accounting and the London Foundling Hospital 1757–97. / Miley, Frances; READ, Andrew.

    In: Accounting History, Vol. 21, No. 2-3, 2016, p. 167-184.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Go gentle babe: Accounting and the London Foundling Hospital 1757–97

    AU - Miley, Frances

    AU - READ, Andrew

    PY - 2016

    Y1 - 2016

    N2 - The London Foundling Hospital was a charitable institution established to turn children of the poor into virtuous and industrious members of society. Poverty-stricken parents gave their children, known as foundlings, to the hospital which cared for and educated them until they could be placed into employment. Since eighteenth-century Britain stigmatized and marginalized the poor, viewing them as immoral and indigent. An important aspect of the charity’s function was (re)creating stigmatized foundling identities so they could leave the hospital as accepted members of mainstream society. This research examines the role of accounting in supporting the hospital’s efforts to (re)create stigmatized identities. We examine the plethora of records the hospital maintained about every aspect of the children’s lives, which were both mechanisms of surveillance and control and evidence of the hospital’s successful efforts in moulding the foundlings into virtuous and industrious members of society. The hospital did not distinguish between financial and non-financial records, ensuring both were regularly reviewed and audited before being made available to selected members of the public. We contrast the public availability of these records, which evidenced hospital (re)created identities, with the hospital’s secrecy surrounding tokens, small items given by a parent when hospitalizing a child. We contend that the tokens were a form of accounting record that represented stigmatized identities of the poor and had to be hidden so they could be replaced with (re)created acceptable identities. We conclude that examining accounting records maintained by the hospital provides insights into the role accounting can play in supporting the work of charitable institutions seeking to create social acceptability for stigmatized groups.

    AB - The London Foundling Hospital was a charitable institution established to turn children of the poor into virtuous and industrious members of society. Poverty-stricken parents gave their children, known as foundlings, to the hospital which cared for and educated them until they could be placed into employment. Since eighteenth-century Britain stigmatized and marginalized the poor, viewing them as immoral and indigent. An important aspect of the charity’s function was (re)creating stigmatized foundling identities so they could leave the hospital as accepted members of mainstream society. This research examines the role of accounting in supporting the hospital’s efforts to (re)create stigmatized identities. We examine the plethora of records the hospital maintained about every aspect of the children’s lives, which were both mechanisms of surveillance and control and evidence of the hospital’s successful efforts in moulding the foundlings into virtuous and industrious members of society. The hospital did not distinguish between financial and non-financial records, ensuring both were regularly reviewed and audited before being made available to selected members of the public. We contrast the public availability of these records, which evidenced hospital (re)created identities, with the hospital’s secrecy surrounding tokens, small items given by a parent when hospitalizing a child. We contend that the tokens were a form of accounting record that represented stigmatized identities of the poor and had to be hidden so they could be replaced with (re)created acceptable identities. We conclude that examining accounting records maintained by the hospital provides insights into the role accounting can play in supporting the work of charitable institutions seeking to create social acceptability for stigmatized groups.

    KW - accounting history

    KW - charitable institutions

    KW - Foundling Hospital

    KW - identity

    KW - stigma

    KW - tokens

    U2 - 10.1177/1032373216644259

    DO - 10.1177/1032373216644259

    M3 - Article

    VL - 21

    SP - 167

    EP - 184

    JO - Accounting History

    JF - Accounting History

    SN - 1032-3732

    IS - 2-3

    ER -