First global collection for tracing British Home Children launched by Findmypast

A major new collection of Home Children records has launched today on family tree website, Findmypast, which will allow millions of descendants of British Home Children to trace their ancestors for free – many for the first time.

Created in collaboration with organisations across the UK and Canada, including The National Archives, The British Library, Library and Archives Canada, and Home Children Canada, the new collection features a vast and varied range of records which tell the stories of those who were part of the forced child migrant scheme in place from the 1860s up to the 1970s.

The collection, launched at Rootstech, will be a growing repository with records added on an ongoing basis. It currently includes workhouse records, Juvenile Inspection Reports, Home Children Board of Guardian Records and emigration reports, while future updates are likely to see historical newspapers, migration records, workhouse and institutional records, periodicals and military records added.

Over 130,000 children, now known as ‘British Home Children’, were sent across the Commonwealth, in particular to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Only 12% of these children were ‘true orphans’ – many came from charitable homes, workhouses, or destitute and struggling families. They were usually fostered into families when they reached their destinations to be used as unpaid domestic or farming labour.

However, abuse was widespread in a system which offered little protection to the children and few investigations into the care they received from their foster families. Many were relocated several times during their childhood, and often separated from their siblings.

Historically, descendants of Home Children have struggled to trace their roots, with most records held in private archives and inaccessible to the public. This collection will provide an open-access, centralised set of resources for descendants to trace their forced migrant ancestors back to the UK and their birth families and add them directly to their family tree on Findmypast.

Discover the collection for free on Findmypast:

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