The buildings that now house the Migration Museum were once part of Adelaide’s Destitute Asylum. A new exhibition which tells the stories of those who were born, lived and died at the Destitute Asylum opened in May.
Research for the exhibition has uncovered the names and birthdates of the babies born between 1880 and 1909 at the Lying-in Home, one of the many buildings that made up the Destitute Asylum. A state-funded Destitute Asylum was established in Adelaide to house the poverty-stricken. From the outset the Asylum provided ‘lying-in’ accommodation for pregnant women who were unmarried, widowed or deserted, and in 1878 a purpose-built Lying-in Home was built. On entry to the Home women were required to agree to fulfil the duties allotted by the Matron, declare the paternity of the child they were expecting, and remain at the Home for six months after the birth of the child. During their stay women were expected to breastfeed their babies, thereby increasing their chance of survival.
Between 1 January 1880 and 31 December 1909, 1678 babies were born at the Lying-in Home; 116 of whom were stillborn. While some did not survive the first six months of life, most either left with their mothers or were placed in the care of the State Children’s Council.
The new exhibition is in the former Lying-in Home building. Explore the exhibition and stay for a discussion of the history of the Lying-in Home, the Destitute Asylum and join us in remembering the babies born there.;
After 1918 the Lying In Hospital and Mother's Ward buildings were used by the SA Government Chemistry Department until the late 1970s. The Migration Museum opened in 1986.