The Family Life of Old People collection

Scope and Content

The study covers the period 1954-1955. The main part of the collection comprises 191 accounts of interviews, complete with kinship charts, stored in one archival box. These papers are sorted into thirteen files.

There are two files of eleven interviews from the pilot stage; one file of fifty six interviews with married, widowed and single men from the main survey; one file of sixty interviews with married and unmarried women from the main survey; one file of sixty four interviews with widowed women from the main survey; eight files of background material such as chapter drafts, correspondence, questionnaires and related reports.

Administrative / Biographical History

This material formed the basis for a study which examined the validity of a 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 people of pensionable age living in East London, the project demonstrated the importance of kinship in community membership.

Conditions Governing Access

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.

Other Finding Aids

A collection level record for all paper based materials in the Family Life of Old People data collection is available via Qualidata's online catalogue, Qualicat.

Conditions Governing Use

No part of the NSPCSA 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.

Professor Peter Townsend requests the right to view any work containing extensive quotation.


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. 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 library special collections acquisitions staff evaluate collections by assessing their relevance to the teaching and research interests of the University.

Custodial History

The collection was held by Peter Townsend as part of his personal papers until 1996. Then it was prepared for archiving by Qualidata and deposited in the NSPSCA. A life story interview with Townsend lasting 20 hours was conducted as part of the archiving project.


No additional material is expected.


Townsend, P. The Family Life of Old People (1957), (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul) .

Additional Information

National Social Policy and Social Change Archive (NSPSCA), Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex.