News & Events

Have You Seen This Child?


One of the most recognizable and iconic images of the early era of pediatric medicine in Boston is the 1914 photo of an unidentified young boy aboard the Floating Hospital for Children ship.

Floating Hospital for Children was originally founded in 1894 as a hospital ship sailing in Boston Harbor. In those days, little was known about the care of sick children, but many thought that fresh air – especially ocean air – was beneficial. The Floating Hospital functioned as a hospital ship for more than 30 years, before permanently moving on shore in 1927 after the boat was destroyed by fire. 

We are very fortunate to have a number of original photos from this early era of pediatric medicine in Boston, but perhaps the most recognizable and iconic of these images is the 1914 photo of a young boy posing with a life preserver aboard the Floating Hospital ship. Dan Bird, Director of Volunteer Services, Tufts MC’s unofficial historian and author of a book on the history of Floating Hospital, spent hours and hours over many months trying to identify the child in the photo, without success. So now, he is enlisting the public’s help.

“There’s probably a really interesting story behind this person. Somebody knows who he is, we just haven’t found that person yet,” said Bird in a Boston Globe story. “If you ask enough people, all of a sudden it’s going to come.”

The story of the search to identify the boy in the photo has been covered by CNN, The Boston Globe and Boston magazine.

If you have any information about the identity of the child in the photo, please contact Jeremy Lechan at  

The above content is provided for educational purposes by Tufts Medical Center. It is free for educational use. For information about your own health, contact your physician.