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Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum
326 West Francis Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(757) 220-7554 | 1-800-447-8679

Threads of Feeling

Threads of Feelings

Poignant Stories

Through May 26, 2014

When mothers left babies at London’s Foundling Hospital in the mid-18th century, the Hospital often retained a small token as a means of identification, usually a piece of fabric. Each scrap of material reflects the life of a single infant and that of its absent parent.

Organized by the Foundling Museum and curated by John Styles, this will be the only American venue for this exhibition.

The token-filled billet books are owned and lent by leading UK children’s charity Coram, which began as the Foundling Hospital, with the assistance of the City of London, London Metropolitan Archives.

The Colonial Williamsburg exhibition of Threads of Feeling is supported by the generosity of Mary and Clint Gilliland of Menlo Park, California, through the Turner-Gilliland Family Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Elizabeth Moore Ruffin, Douglas N. Morton and Marilyn L. Brown of Englewood, Colorado, Berwick Offray LLC, and Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Barnett.

  • Join the Thread Online

    Have you experienced the exhibit? Share an experience or reflection relating to the themes you’ve seen and stories you’ve heard in the Foundling Museum’s Threads of Feeling exhibition and add your thread to the growing fabric of our blog community.

Hear the story behind London’s Foundling Hospital and gain insight into the struggles mothers of the time may have faced. Learn the historical origins of the term black balled and hear about the exhibition from a textile perspective.

Upcoming Events Related to Threads of Feeling Events

Apr 18
4:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.
Apr 19
5:30 PM
The Unwanted
In this dramatic portrayal, three 18th-century women reveal the heartbreak and the hope of mothers whose circumstances force them to relinquish their infants. A worker at London's Foundling Hospital, a Virginia midwife, and a mother with no other options, all share a common concern for the fate of "the unwanted." Written and performed by Colonial Williamsburg's Abigail Schumann.
Apr 21
2:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.
Apr 25
4:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.
Apr 28
2:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.
May 2
4:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.
May 5
2:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.
May 9
4:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.
May 10
5:30 PM
The Unwanted
In this dramatic portrayal, three 18th-century women reveal the heartbreak and the hope of mothers whose circumstances force them to relinquish their infants. A worker at London's Foundling Hospital, a Virginia midwife, and a mother with no other options, all share a common concern for the fate of "the unwanted." Written and performed by Colonial Williamsburg's Abigail Schumann.
May 12
2:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.
May 16
4:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.
May 19
2:00 PM
Behind Closed Drawers
Drop in to get a closer look at the new exhibition, "Threads of Feeling." Then, peer into the textile study drawers and examine related clothing and needlework from Colonial Williamsburg's collections.