Nowadays, a foundling always makes headline news. It is rare to find an abandoned baby, but this has not always been the case. Around 1800 some 300 to 800 children were found each year in Amsterdam – between one and three every day, in other words. All these foundlings were taken in by the Almoner’s Orphanage on Prinsengracht. The orphanage’s archive is one of the most extraordinary and moving collection of documents kept at Amsterdam City Archives. Mothers would often leave a personal note with their child, and they have all been kept.
Their heartfelt pleas paint a poignant and moving picture of the fate of the children and the distress felt by their mothers, some of the city’s poorest residents.

Foundlings, an exhibition for all the family, is about maternal love, poverty, and caring for one another. And about how vulnerable children were looked after around 1800, and the youth care system of today.