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Name: Sean Male

PhD: History

Thesis Title: The response to immigration within the children's homes system, 1945-1969.


Thesis Description:

The purpose of this project is to understand the significance of race within children's homes after the Second World. It will set out to understand how changing cultural meanings surrounding race affected child welfare policy during a time of increased Commonwealth migration to Britain. With a disproportionate number of children from minority backgrounds entering the care system during the post-war period, children's homes are a unique source in investigating how racial identity was formed in an enclosed setting. The main approach of this project will be to make a historical investigation into child welfare organisations such as Barnardo's and the Association of Children's Officers during this period, and through piecing together the stories of ex-care children from minority backgrounds by conducting interviews and analysing autobiographies.

By completing this project, I hope to add a different narrative to the history of children’s homes that have so far been dominated by sensationalised stories of historical child abuse. It will do this by re-imagining children’s homes as institutions caught in the middle of debates on child welfare, racial prejudice, and decolonisation. It will also add to our understanding of post-war attitudes to ‘miscegenation’ – mixed race relationships – through case studies of mixed-race children abandoned to the care system. It will further serve to humanise the stories of those caught up in the centre of these discourses of race and post-colonialism, and add an extra level of understanding to the impact children’s homes had on modern Britain.



Supervisors and Institution(s):

  • Professor Nicholas Crowson (University of Birmingham)
  • Professor Gavin Schaffer (University of Birmingham)




University email address:


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