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Archiver > ENG-LANCS-PRESTON > 2001-08 > 0998904365


From: "Jim Lancaster" <>
Subject: Harris Orphanage Records
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2001 10:26:05 +0100


Hi, Martin,

I cannot answer this question with certainty. However, basing my words on what I
know of the RC records, when the Social Services legislation changed ca 1950 and
children began to be cared for in small family units, the records of the orphanages
were just old records, not ancient records worth preserving. Further many of the
people involved in administration had been brought up on the philosophy of giving
these children a NEW start, and discarding the old links, so there was no reason to
keep the records. Then as time went on, alternative uses had to be found for the
large buildings previously used to house the large numbers of children, and the
stored records had to be housed somewhere else. Where? Often they had to be culled,
and some destroyed. Occasionally they were all destroyed.

Then as people began to be aware of family history, questions began to be asked about
records. Then people who had been through these establishments realised that it was
natural to ask about their own origins, and sought the records . The authorities that
had run the orphanages began to look after what was left of the records. Generally in
the RC community many of the larger orphanages had been sponsored by diocesan
authorities and there had been from Victorian times organisations responsible for the
care of children in need. Usually these organisations were known as Children's
Protection and Rescue Societies, but in other communities they sometimes had names
that were more descriptive but are now politically unacceptable, e.g. Society for
Waifs and Strays. Because these Societies were responsible to an organisation and
because they continued to supervise the care of children within that community, their
records tended to be somewhat less vulnerable to loss (they had, and continued to
use, office space). In the RC community, these Societies collected their records that
remained and tried to gather the records of the smaller, independent children's home
that had provided for children. These records are still used by the Societies when
children who had been in their care ask about their background. Some of them assigned
staff to be responsible for helping people with these records.

Social Service legislation today recognises that this is not an area into which
people should wander without some emotional backup. I am somewhat of a cynic when
people talk about "counselling", but I strongly believe that this is one area where
searchers need to have the support of someone who knows what may be found and how to
talk the searcher through Disappointment, Dismay, or even what they consider to be
Disgrace.

For these reasons I would not expect any of these records to be in the Lancashire
Record Office (LRO), but if they were I would expect them to be under a closure order
of at least 50 years, and maybe more.

As I said it may be worth contacting the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn for advice
about where these records may be found.

Hope this helps, even if rather negative

Jim Lancaster (Bury, LAN, ENG)

----- Original Message -----
From: "SUNNER Martin" <>
To: "'Jim Lancaster'" <>; <>
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2001 3:51 AM
Subject: RE: Abram Williams Railway signal linesman Bamber Bridge



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