Mary Middleton and Margaret MacDonald Baby Clinic and Hospital

Scope and Content

The collection comprises correspondence requesting donations and support; circulars advertising concerts and other fundraising events; subscriptions; financial reports. In recent years a small amount of additional material has come to light, including a letter written by Ishbel Peterkin nee MacDonald recollecting the history of the clinic.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Baby Clinic was created as a memorial to Margaret MacDonald and Mary Middleton, who both died in 1911. Margaret MacDonald was the wife of Ramsay MacDonald (1886-1937), leader of the Labour Party and first Labour Prime Minister; Mary Middleton was the wife of Jim Middleton (1878-1962), who was MacDonald's Assistant Secretary. Margaret and Ramsay MacDonald's daughter, Ishbel MacDonald, was also a very active supporter of the clinic.

The clinic opened on 13th November 1911 and initially operated from a small house in Telford Road in North Kensington, London. The goal of the clinic was to offer preventative healthcare to the children of the poor. The Baby Clinic First Annual Report 1911-1912, noted that:

'The hope of the clinic is to show that a higher standard of health might be reached in this poor district if medical aid were freely at the command of parents for the many small and mysterious aliments of childhood. Out-Patients' Departments can only be used in cases of definite illness. Poverty keeps parents from seeking private medical advice except in grave and acute need; and so preventative medicine hardly reaches the children of the poor. The aim of the Clinic is to hand the children over to the school authorities, at the age of five years, healthy and sound and capable of profiting by the expensive education they will receive'.

The Baby Clinic operated from 1911 until 1948 when it was taken over by the Ministry of Health under the 1945 National Health Act.


The papers were arranged chronologically and listed in 1973 by Sandra Horrocks.

Access Information

Access by appointment.

Acquisition Information

In 1990 The Labour Party deposited its archive at the People's History Museum (formerly National Museum of Labour History) in Manchester. The collection is now held at the Labour History Archives and Study Centre, which is based at the head office of the People's History Museum and managed by the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.


Collection level description created by Janette Martin.

Other Finding Aids

The catalogue, which includes a detailed index, can be consulted at the Labour History Archive and Study Centre. The catalogue (without the index) can also be accessed electronically at

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents. Prior written permission must be obtained from the Archive for publication or reproduction of any material within the Archive. Please contact the Labour History Archive and Study Centre, 103 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD Tel.: +44 (0)161 834 5343.

Appraisal Information

No appraisal, destruction or scheduling has taken place.

Custodial History

The Collection was donated to the Labour Party Library by Lucy Middleton, who was the third wife of Jim Middleton.


Accruals are not expected.

Related Material

The Labour Party Library Collection includes a bound volume of The Baby Clinic: a Memorial to Mary Middleton and Margaret Macdonald Annual Reports, 1911-1948.

Obituaries for Mary Middleton and Margaret Macdonald can be found in the papers of the Women's Labour League and in the journal, Labour Women. The Labour History Archive and Study Centre holds both of these sources.

Correspondence and accounts from the Middleton and MacDonald Baby Clinic Hospital, 1936-41 are held at the London Metropolitan Archives (ref. Acc 2417/H/78-82).