M&B Homes Researcher
About the Project
'I feel so honoured to bear witness to these stories, and hope that by sharing them others can develop a greater understanding for an historical phenomenon which continues to have a very real impact on women and their children today.'
This research took place as part of my MA Public History dissertation at Royal Holloway University of London. The aim of the research was to explore the experiences of women who spent time in mother and baby homes in mid-20th century England, most prominently in the 1960s. This project utilizes an oral history methodology which included interviews with women who gave birth prior to marriage and forfeited their children to adoption.
Key aspects included in the interviews were life before pregnancy, response and management of the pregnancy, residential stays in mother and baby homes or hostels, childbirth, caring for the baby, adoption, life after baby or "getting on with it," and when applicable reunification.
The research for this project is based primarily on interviews with women who spent time in these homes, and is supported by additional research into published works printed during the period of study and in more recent years. While a significant amount of literature was reviewed in this research, there were three sources which were most frequently called upon when understanding the lives of the women in this project and the conditions of the homes involved. These include, first and foremost, the interviews conducted with the mothers involved in the project. Secondly, for a greater understanding of their experience and to draw upon a larger pool of birth mothers I relied upon the Post Adoption Centre's publication Half a Million Women: Mothers who lose their children by adoption published in 1992. Lastly, for a more in-depth look at Mother and Baby Homes, for contemporeanous views on their practices, and to access a larger study I relied upon the National Institute for Social Work Training Series book Mother and Baby Homes: A Survey of Homes for Unmarried Mothers"written by Jill Nicholson and published in 1968. It was these three sources which offered up the richest context and comprehension on the topic.
I hope this site will provide a greater understanding of a little known and even less discussed area important to the history of individuals both in England and internationally as mother and baby homes are not a phenomenon known only in the United Kingdom.