The 18th-century Edinburgh Orphan Hospital, 3 October

23 February 2023
The 18th-century Edinburgh Orphan Hospital
Dr Kate Gibson investigates the stories of children cared for in Scotland’s first national institution for vulnerable children.

3 October 2023, 6.30pm UK time


Buried deep under what is now Waverley Station, lie the remains of a building that housed hundreds of children in need of care. The records of the Edinburgh Orphan Hospital provide a fascinating insight into the lives of labouring and poor families in 18th- and 19th-century Scotland. 

In this 45-minute Zoom talk, historian Dr Kate Gibson reveals the history of the Edinburgh Orphan Hospital, set up in the 18th century to care for vulnerable children and shape them into ‘good citizens’.

She’ll explore:

  • the surviving records and their significance for family historians and Scottish history researchers
  • Scotland’s participation in the 18th-century wave of humanitarianism across Europe
  • the daily lives and fates of the children, and the family circumstances that led to their admission. 
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Event details

Join Dr Kate Gibson for a live c.45-minute illustrated online talk on  3 October, followed by approximately 30 minutes of questions from the audience. The registration fee includes on-demand access to the event recording (released the following day) for 7 days after the broadcast.

The event will be chaired by author and historian Dr Louise Heren, reviews editor of History Scotland magazine.

Registration fee: £10 - includes 7-day access to the event recording. Starts 6.30pm UK time. To find the start time in your time zone, visit TimeAndDate. Got a question about booking? E-mail Rachel Bellerby. 

Speaker details

Dr Kate Gibson is a social historian of 18th-century Britain, with a particular interest in the reproduction of inequality through family relationships.

Her first book, Illegitimacy, Family and Stigma in England, 1660-1834, was published by Oxford University Press in 2022. She is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow working on the history of fostering and adoption in Britain from 1700 to 1839. 



Image: Edinburgh Orphan Hospital, c.1843-47, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson © The Met New York, Harris Brisband Dick Fund, 1937

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