Ancestry UK

Children's Home Records

Identifying the Institution

Identifying the particular institution (or institutions) where a person stayed can sometimes be tricky. Family memories can be notoriously unreliable when it comes to exact names and locations. Larger towns and cities sometimes had several children's homes whose names could easily be confused. This is not helped by the fact that, over the years, some institutions changed their name or relocated their premises.

Often you may at least know the county or town where the home was located. The 'List by Location' pages of this website can help you browse the homes in a particular area. Alternatively, consulting old trade directories for the area may help you pinpoint the home in question. The 'Trades Directory' section at the back of many Kelly's directories usually includes a 'Homes' section listing the various homes in the district operating at that date. A large online collection of trade directories is available free at the Historical Directories site, while sites such as Ancestry UK are increasingly adding trade directories to their resources.

Old Ordnance maps often identify larger orphanages and children's homes, with websites such as and being useful online resources for this purpose.

If the home was run by an organisation such as Dr Barnardo's, an occupational body, or was a reformatory or industrial school, this should be apparent from its name or other details. Homes run by Boards of Guardians — the local workhouse authority in each Poor Law Union area — usually include the word 'Union' or 'Guardians' in their descriptions.

The individual pages for institutions documented on this website include, wherever possible, details of their surviving records.