2017 - 2018

Holding the Baby

Holding the Baby is an oral history of childcare and parenting, a podcast series and a travelling, sound-based exhibition. We asked people from London's East End to reflect upon the care they received as children and gave as parents, carers and childcare workers. Their answers tell personal and emotional stories, relevant to the experiences of parents today.

The stories let us peek into the untold worlds of housework and home, to learn how the devastating impact of higher infant morality rates resonated through the generations, the effects on children called to be 'little mums' to their younger siblings, and what people really felt about living with and among their extended families, using childcare and dealing with relationship breakdown. 

We collected an oral history archive containing 22 people’s memories, photographs and material relating to the Children's Centre established at the Memorial Baptist Church in Plaistow. The full interviews can be found at Bishopsgate Institute in London.

Kindly supported by Gilda Street Trust in the memory of the historian and author, Gilda O’Neill. 

Listen to the podcast here

Discover the exhibition here

There weren’t many dads around in those days, looking after babies. And I remember the first time the health visitor came I was really ultra tidying up and making sure the place was really clean because I was worried she would start questioning why I was at home, and where’s your wife, where’s the child’s mother and all that sort of stuff." - John Newman