ISSN 2409-2274

The care of children in foundling hospitals

Nikolay Yablokov

2017, no1, pp. 144–195


A reprint of the essay  of Nikolai Yablokov (1845-1904) published by him in 1901 and awarded an honorable mention at the first competition for the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna Prize. What prompted N.V. Yablokov to write this essay was, among other things, the attention of Emperor Alexander III to the high mortality of children in the foundling hospitals of Moscow and St. Petersburg and, as a result, subsequent significant changes in the rules for the functioning of these institutions (Decree of 1891).

N.V. Yablokov turns his attention first to the history of the attitude of the state and society towards abortion, infanticide and the abandoning of illegitimate children in the period preceding the creation of the first orphanage in Milan in 767, and then looks in detail at the development of foundling hospitals and covert baby boxes (“tours”) in Catholic Europe (in Protestant countries, the opening of foundling hospitals was considered immoral).

Most of the essay is devoted to the organization of assistance to orphans and illegitimate children in Russia in orphanages established in churches at first by private initiative, and later by order of Peter I, and finally in the first Foundling hospital established in Moscow in 1763 by a manifesto of Catherine II, and in the second in St. Petersburg in 1771. N. Yablokov draws a detailed picture of the functioning of foundling hospitals, including the rules for and special features of admitting and caring for the children. Special attention is given to the positive and negative aspects of both the open and the covert admission of infants (until 1891, admission to the orphanages was covert).

N.V. Yablokov received his medical degree from the Medical Department of Moscow University, worked as a doctor in the nursing sections of the Moscow Foundling hospital and as chief physician in the Sofia Children's Hospital (now the N.F. Filatov Children's City Clinical Hospital No. 13), and was actively engaged in organizational issues related to the protection of children's health and social welfare

Keywords: foundling hospital; orphans; illegitimate children; foundlings; infant mortality