HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT AND THE INSTITUTIONAL CARE OF CHILDREN IN LATE VICTORIAN LONDON
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Using the example of the London-based children's organisation Barnardo's, this thesis examines the influence of contemporary ideas regarding the relationship between environment, health and disease on the organisation and everyday institutional practices of the charity. While autobiographical accounts and historical investigations have written on the 'man himself' as well as the discursive and representational strategies used by Barnardo's to justify child removal, the importance of environmental discourses to the institution remain underexplored. The thesis addresses this lacuna through a detailed analysis of archival materials relating to Barnardo's (committee minutes, pamphlets, reports, Dr Barnardo's personal notebooks) as well as through a textual analysis of Night & Day, the main outlet for publicising the work of the charity and stimulating support for it. The thesis covers the period from 1866, when Barnardo's was founded, to the death of Dr Barnardo in 1905. This is a period when the environmental idea was arguably at its strongest, with a host of social ills (from criminality and prostitution, to human health and vitality and later in the period racial degeneration) linked to the influence of the environment. Like many other social reformers and philanthropists, Dr Barnardo was a firm believer in environmental explanations for such social ills, as well as a committed evangelical Christian, and promoted the rapid removal of young people (not all were orphaned but the vast majority were destitute) from urban and familial environments believed to do harm to their physical, moral and spiritual health. Where the first part of the thesis covers the importance of environment to the Barnardo's justification for his child removal practices, the remainder of it considers the response of the institution to environmental ideas. In addition to examining the influence of environment on institutional design and on the everyday practices of the 'inmates', for example the promotion of light and air in the girl's home at Barkingside, emphasis is also placed on ideas of mobility and movement. Here the thesis explores the paradoxical relationship between the organisation's 'anti-institutional' projection and the institutional realities of constructing and policing 'out of home' care practices (trips to the country- and seaside, boarding-out, emigration). This thesis contributes to extant accounts of Dr Barnardo's; however, its primary contribution lies in its nuanced examination of the role of environmental ideas on shaping institutional design and on its influence on the everyday practices of Barnardo's young inmates.
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