UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

Family Life of Old People, 1865-1955

Title details

SN: 4723
Title: Family Life of Old People, 1865-1955
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-4723-1
Depositor: Townsend, P., Institute of Community Studies
Principal investigator(s): Townsend, P., Institute of Community Studies
Data collector(s): Townsend, P., Institute of Community Studies
Marris, P., Institute of Community Studies
Sponsor(s): Nuffield Foundation


The citation for this study is:

Townsend, P. (2004). Family Life of Old People, 1865-1955. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 4723,

Select the text above to add data citation in your outputs.

Select citation format: 
XML citation formats:  CSL  EndNote

Subject Categories

Elderly - Social stratification and groupings
Family life and marriage - Social stratification and groupings
Use and provision of specific social services - Social welfare policy and systems


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

This material formed the basis for Professor Townsend's classic 1954-55 study which examined the growing perception that a breakdown in extended family networks was leaving old people isolated, and creating an increasing demand for residential care. Based primarily on interviews with a random sample of 203 people of pensionable age living in Bethnal Green, East London, the project demonstrated the important role that kinship networks, and relations within the extended family, played in the maintenance of community membership. This collection comprises PDF copies of Townsend's original papers, which are well-written, journalistic summaries of his face-to-face interviews, including his own observations and descriptions. 178 of the interview summaries are included in this collection (including kinship diagrams), several diaries, and 11 summaries of pilot interviews (made in 1954) with elderly people in Hampstead and Westminster.
Main Topics:
Old age; elderly people; family life; housing for the elderly; care of dependants; welfare services; community life; retirement; poverty; social isolation; loneliness.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: 1865 - 1955
Dates of fieldwork: 1954 - 1955
Country: England
Geography: Bethnal Green
Greater London
Spatial units: No spatial unit
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Textual data
Individual (micro) level
Interview summaries
Kinship diagrams
Universe: Subnational
Elderly men and women in Bethnal Green, Hampstead and Westminster, London.
Time dimensions: Cross-sectional (one-time) study
Sampling procedures: Quota sample
Number of units: 189
Method of data collection: Face-to-face interview; Diaries
Weighting: No weighting used

Thesaurus search on keywords

Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 02 September 2004
Copyright: Copyright Professor Peter Townsend.
Access conditions: The depositor has specified that registration is required and standard conditions of use apply. The depositor may be informed about usage. See terms and conditions of access for further information.
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Get in touch


Title File Name Size (KB)
User Guide q4723uguide.pdf 21103
Data List q4723ulist.pdf 16
Study information and citation UKDA_Study_4723_Information.htm 6
READ File read4723.txt 2


View publications... Hide publications...

By principal investigator(s):
Townsend, P. (1957) The family life of old people, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

  • Townsend, P. (1963) The family life of old people (with extended postscript), Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

  • Resulting from secondary analysis:
    Cowan, D. (2018) 'Modern parenting and the uses of childcare advice in post-war England', Social History, 43(3) (August).


    No previously uploaded files

      (login required)

    Upload syntax/code file

    Family Life of Old People, 1865-1955

    I agree to the terms and conditions *

    Confirm new syntax/code file version

    A previous version of syntax file "" has already been uploaded and approved.

    If you continue with this upload, the previous version of the syntax file will be overwritten with this new version.

    This new version of the syntax file will be subject to the UK Data Service approval process before it becomes available for download.

    Do you want to continue?


    Back to top