Growing Up in Stepfamilies

Scope and Content

Content includes 50 interview transcripts with summarised notes, together with 51 audio tape cassettes of 21 of the interviews. In addition the collection includes contextual material to the research project. This includes:

  • Correspondence
  • Article: 'Gender and Memory', International Yearbook of Oral History and Life Stories
  • Conference Paper: 'Memories of Childhood Experience of Family Disruption and Reconstitution', 9th International Oral History Conference, 13-16 June 1996
  • Research Outline: Stepfamily Stress in Britain
  • Book Proposal: Growing Up in Stepfamilies
  • Draft Interview Guide: Stepfamily Childhoods
  • ESRC Research Proposal: unsuccessful, but similar proposal made to Wates Foundation

Administrative / Biographical History

This study of fifty children born in 1958, examined the long-term experiences of children growing up in stepfamilies, using in-depth evidence gleaned from a reliable sample (of men and women who grew up as part of a step family in the UK). The key themes around which the research has been structured are gender, communication and discipline within families, the role of the extended family, the absent parent, and, above all, the factors which help or hinder stepchildren in the long-term. The authors emphasised how change is possible not only in childhood, but also in adulthood. Through the life story method, (conducting face-to-face interviews), the authors drew together sociological and social-historical interpretations, clinical experience in child and adolescent psychiatry, and the systems approach used in family therapy.

  • Sponsor: Wates Foundation/Henry Gorrell Barnes Trust
  • Reference Time Period Covered in Project: 1958-1990
  • Sampling Procedures: Purposive selective from the National Child Development Study

For further background documentation relating to this study please contact Qualidata, The Qualitative Data Service, University of Essex.


Box 1

  • File 1: Contextual
  • File 2: Health Questionnaires
  • Nos. 1, 4 - 37 & 40 - 50
  • Files 3-12 Interview Transcripts with Interview Summary Sheets&Interview Notes, Nos. 001 - 025

Box 2

  • Files 13-24: Interview Transcripts with Interview Summary Sheets & Interview Notes, Nos. 026 - 050

Box 3

  • Audio Tape Cassettes

Access Information

By written application to either the Librarian or Deputy Librarian. A letter of introduction may be required and prospective users will be obliged to sign an undertaking outlining the terms and conditions of access to the research materials.

Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited by the project investigators, Gill Gorrell-Barnes, Professor Paul Thompson, Gwyn Daniel and Natasha Burchardt.


This record was created by Emma J. Barker, Qualidata, UK Data Archive, University of Essex. The content was based largely upon information provided by the collection level record for Growing Up in Stepfamilies in Qualidata's online catalogue, Qualicat .

Other Finding Aids

A detailed outline list for this collection is available on request, from Qualidata, The Qualitative Data Service, University of Essex.

Conditions Governing Use

No part of the NSPSCA collections may be reproduced, published, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Albert Sloman Library. This may be obtained by application to the Librarian or Deputy Librarian.

Short quotations only - to preserve anonymity; but always to be agreed with the depositor.


The materials held in the collection contain personal and identifying information. It is essential that the privacy of all respondents is not infringed. No real names or any other identifiable information used in the studies may appear in public and no attempt may be made to contact respondents directly. Use of the materials to derive information relating specifically to an identified individual or to claim to have done so is prohibited.

Appraisal Information

In consultation with academic colleagues, the Albert Sloman Library special collections acquisitions staff evaluate collections by assessing their relevance to the teaching and research interests of the University.

Custodial History

The interview tapes, transcripts, associated correspondence and project documentation from this collection were deposited in 1999 with Qualidata, University of Essex. In 2002, Qualidata transferred the collection to The NSPSCA at the Albert Sloman Library, Special Collections, University of Essex.


No additional material is expected.

Location of Originals

This collection contains original materials, including the audio recordings of the interviews.


Gorrell-Barnes, G., Thompson, P., Daniel, G., and Burchardt, N., Growing Up in Stepfamilies, (Oxford: Clarendan Press, 1998).

Thompson, P., The Role of Grandparents When Parents Part or Die: Some Reflections on the Mythical Decline of the Extended Family, in Ageing and Society, 19, (1999), pp. 471-503.