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Care and Conflict

The Story of the Jewish Orphanage at Norwood

Lawrence Cohen

Norwood, an Anglo-Jewish childcare institution founded in the late nineteenth century, was one of several hundred such institutions in the UK, but the only Jewish one. Throughout its history, Norwood had the unusual task of adapting its childcare approach to both British and Jewish concerns. This book offers a unique study of one residential child institution within the broader British context, tracing the development of the institution and changing concepts of childcare over nearly one hundred years.
The story of Norwood is told chronologically, beginning with its origins in the early nineteenth century and its growth before the First World War. The inter-war years saw a period of stagnation that paved the way for the post-war revolution in institutional childcare, the demise of the orphanage idea and, with it, the demolition of Norwood. The book provides a narrative of the rise and fall of the childcare institution as much as the story of Norwood.
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Chapter 8 Historical Perspective on Norwood

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CHAPTER 8

Historical Perspective on Norwood

Care and Conflict tells the story of the Jewish orphanage at Norwood. It focuses on a particular denominational orphanage within the wider context of the institutional care of children. The institutionalism of the child provides the common thread throughout the chapters. The period of the story of Norwood is from its creation in 1876 to its closure in 1961. However, to place Norwood in a historical context required returning to the earlier foundation charities, the Jews’ Hospital and Jews’ Orphan Asylum. Norwood was the only significant Jewish residential child institution in the UK, but one of several hundred that catered for non-Jewish children by the state and voluntary charities.1 The book follows the story of Norwood as an institution but sets it in the wider context of the UK and abroad. The Norwood story opens a door that allows the historian to enter to discover the inner workings of the institution. In the case of Norwood the research addresses an important gap in the history of institutional life. As a Jewish institution, it is a gap in Anglo-Jewish historiography. As an orphanage, it is a gap in the historiography of childcare institutions.

The book achieves its objective by telling the story of Norwood within a framework – a historical trajectory through pre-institutional, institutional and post institutional phases. The approach used is to focus on Norwood as a Jewish ‘species’ within an institutional ‘genus’ that has a...

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