UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918, 1870-1973

Title details

SN: 2000
Title: Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918, 1870-1973
Alternative title: The Edwardians
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-2000-1
Depositor: Thompson, P., University of Essex. Department of Sociology
Principal investigator(s): Thompson, P., University of Essex. Department of Sociology
Lummis, T., University of Essex. Department of Sociology
Sponsor(s): Economic and Social Research Council


The citation for this study is:

Thompson, P., Lummis, T. (2009). Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918, 1870-1973. [data collection]. 7th Edition. UK Data Service. SN: 2000,

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Subject Categories

Economic history - History
Family life and marriage - Social stratification and groupings
General - Employment and labour
Population history - History
Social history - History


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

This study is available via the UK Data Service QualiBank, an online tool for browsing, searching and citing the content of selected qualitative data collections held at the UK Data Service.

This qualitative data collection comprises 453 life-story interviews originally collected as part of the study The Edwardians: Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918. The interviews were undertaken in the late 1960s and early 1970s and formed the basis of the first national oral history project in the United Kingdom.

Paul Thompson first became aware of the need for a project of this kind in the late 1960s while in the process of writing a book about the social history of Britain between 1900 and 1918. He recognised that there existed little direct evidence of life during this period from a working class point of view, that such material would be valuable, and that it must be gathered immediately while there were still people alive who were able to provide testimony of this kind. His objective was to examine social life and social change during this period, focusing upon work experience and family and community life.

The project resulted in a number of publications, including Thompson's The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society, which was published in 1975 and again in revised form in 1992. In his introduction, he detailed three basic aims for the book: The first was 'to establish what I believe to be the most important dimensions of social change in the early twentieth century' (1992: xv). In doing so, he concentrated upon specific issues which he considered to be fundamental to social structure, notably class, gender and age, while also exploring other issues such as work experience, education and leisure. His second intention was 'to suggest the main reasons for social change, and especially the extent to which conscious effort by Edwardians for social change was critical' (1992: xvi). Finally, he aimed 'to give a place, in this evaluation of general social change, to the contribution and experience of ordinary individuals' (1992: xvi). The experiences gained from the project also contribute greatly to Paul Thompson's 'The Voice of the Past' (1978, second edition 1988).

A total of 537 interviews were recorded on reel-to-reel audio tape and 453 later transcribed as typed, paper documents. The interviews were open-ended (guided by a schedule) and of between one and six hours duration.

A related project, Systematic Analysis of Life Histories, is also included. The aim of this project was to prepare the qualitative interviews for numerical coding shortly after completion. Additionally, this quantitative component of the collection has been enhanced. A selection of the original variables was cross-referenced for verification. The data set was then expanded to include a set of additional variables on occupation and location as well as textual summaries of the interview transcripts.

The original sound recordings are deposited at the British Library National Sound Archive.

Main Topics:
The interview schedule covered: domestic routine, including the roles of husbands and children; meals; the upbringing of children; emotional relationships and values in the family; leisure; religion; politics; school; courtship and marriage; the wider family; relationships with neighbours and perception of the community structure; experience of work and occupational history of the whole family.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: 1870 - 1973
Dates of fieldwork: 1969 - 1973
Country: Great Britain
Spatial units: No spatial unit
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Textual data
Numeric data
in-depth interview transcripts
Universe: National
Men and women born between 1870 and 1908 in England, Scotland and Wales
Time dimensions: Cross-sectional (one-time) study
Sampling procedures: Quota sample derived from the occupational census of 1911, clustered and stratified by region and social class
Number of units: 453 (qualitative and quantitative)
Method of data collection: Face-to-face interview; Compilation or synthesis of existing material
Weighting: No weighting used

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 01 January 1984
Latest edition: 12 May 2009 (7th Edition)
Copyright: Copyright P. Thompson, University of Essex. Database right P. Thompson, University of Essex and UK Data Service, University of Essex, 2006
Access conditions: The depositor has specified that registration is not required.
Please note: These data are available to any user for any purpose under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Get in touch


Zip files contain data, documentation and licence details

Title Size (KB)
SPSS (Zip) 34862[MD5Checksum: 53D033B1AD2A2D69FDF8D02CD4B7FD5C]
Stata (Zip) 34519[MD5Checksum: 96FDCEFA4F1DCE065C3DE6DEEC0339AD]
Tab-delimited (Zip) 34750[MD5Checksum: 223AD4AF3782194BF8E1F6E9D40B040C]
xml (Zip) 35214[MD5Checksum: 3F663419F439DFEE89210DD051C353CF]


Title File Name Size (KB)
Data list 2000ulist.xls 148
File Manifest for SPSS format zip file 2000_file_information_spss.csv 46
File Manifest for Stata format zip file 2000_file_information_stata.csv 47
File Manifest for tab-delimited format zip file 2000_file_information_tab.csv 46
File Manifest for XML format zip file 2000_file_information_xml.csv 46
User guide 2000uguide.pdf 8129
Data list 2000ulist.pdf 130
Study information and citation UKDA_Study_2000_Information.htm 6
READ File read2000.htm 6


View publications... Hide publications...

By principal investigator(s):
Thompson, P.R. and Harkel, G. (1979) The Edwardians in photographs, London: Batsford. ISBN 0-713421-71-1

Thompson, P.R., Itzin, C. and Abendstern, M. (1990) I Don't Feel Old: The Experience of Later Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-820147-8

Thompson, P.R. (1992) The Edwardians: the remaking of British society, 2nd ed. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415061-14-8

Thompson, P.R. (2000) The voice of the past: oral history, 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-192893-17-3

Resulting from secondary analysis:
Foley, A. (1973) A Bolton childhood, Manchester: North Western District of the Workers' Educational Association. ISBN 0-90-263709-6

Wolff, M. and Dyos, H.J. (eds.) (1973) The Victorian city: images and realities, London: Routledge. ISBN 0-71-007384-4

Howkins, A. (1977) 'The small shopkeeper in industrial and market towns', in G. Crossick (ed.) The lower middle class in Britain, 1870-1914, London: Croom Helm. ISBN 0-85-664348-3

Meacham, S. (1977) A life apart: the English working class 1890-1914, London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-50-025055-3

Joyce, P. (1980) Work, society and politics: the culture of the factory in later Victorian England, Brighton: Harvester Press. ISBN 0-85-527680-0

More, C. (1980) Skill and the English working class 1870-1914, London: Croom Helm. ISBN 0-31-272772-0

Thompson, T. (1981) Edwardian childhoods, London: Routledge. ISBN 0-71-000676-4

Ross, E. (1982) ''Fierce questions and taunts': married life in working-class London, 1870-1914', Feminist Studies, 8(3), pp.575-602.

Ross, E. (1983) 'Survival networks: women's neighbourhood sharing in London before World War One', History Workshop 15, Spring, pp.1-27.

Gillis, J.R. (1985) For better, for worse: British marriages, 1600 to the present, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-503614-X

McLeod, H. (1986) 'New perspectives on Victorian working-class religion: the oral evidence', Oral History 14, pp.31-49

Burchardt, N. (1990) 'Stepchildren's memories: myth, understanding and forgiveness', in R. Samuel and P.R. Thompson (eds.) The myths we live by, London: Routledge. ISBN 0-41-503609-7

Child, M.J. (1992) Labour's apprentices: working-class lads in late Victorian and Edwardian England, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-77-350915-1

Rose, J. (1993) 'Willingly to school: the working-class response to elementary education in Britain, 1875-1918', Journal of British Studies 32(2), pp.114-138.

Vincent, D. and Miles, A. (eds.) (1993) Building European society: occupational change and social mobility in Europe 1840-1940, Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-71-903499-X

Oram, A. (1996) Women teachers and feminist politics, 1900-1939, Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-71-902759-4

Crouch, D. and Ward, C. (1997) The allotment: its landscape and culture, 3rd ed. Nottingham: Five Leaves Publications. ISBN 0-90-712391-0

Vincent, D. (1997) 'Shadow and reality in occupational history', in D. Bertaux and P.R. Thompson (eds.) Pathways to social class: a qualitative approach to social mobility, Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-827931-0

Williams, S. (1999) Religious Belief and Popular Culture in Southwark c.1880-1939, Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-820769-7

Brown, C. (2000) The death of Christian Britain: understanding secularisation 1800-2000, London: Routledge. ISBN 0-41-524184-7

Rose, J. (2001) The intellectual life of the British working classes, New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-30-008886-8

Trentmann, F. and Taylor, V. (2005), 'From users to consumers: water politics in nineteenth-century London' in F.Trentmann (ed.) The making of the consumer: knowledge, power and identity in the modern world, Oxford: Berg.

Roper, M. (2009) The secret battle: emotional survival in the Great War, Manchester University Press.

Trentmann, F. (2009) Free trade nation: consumption, commerce and civil society in modern Britain, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Taylor, V., Chappells, H., Medd, W., and Trentmann, F. (2009), 'Drought is normal: the socio-technical evolution of drought and water demand in the UK, 1893-2006', Journal of Historical Geography, 35 (July), pp.568-91.

Taylor, V., and Trentmann, F. (2011), 'Liquid politics: water and the politics of everyday life in the modern city', Past and Present, 211 (May), pp.199-241.

Cook H. (2012) 'Emotion, bodies, sexuality, and sex education in Edwardian England', The Historical Journal, 55(2), pp.475-495.


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