The Poverty in the United Kingdom Collection

Scope and Content

The study covers the period 1965-1969. The collection comprises seventy-four files stored in 6 archival boxes. Box one contains a master research file; four files on coding data; four files of proposals and draft papers; four files of fieldwork papers. Box two contains six files of material issues to interviewers; three files of publication review; one file of personal notes and reports by Townsend. Box three contains eight files on related research pre-dating the project; four files regarding the Joseph Rowntree memorial trust; three files of meeting minutes and general correspondence. Box four contains thirty files of draft chapters from the final publication. Box five contains two files regarding publication. Box six contains four files of reports and contextual material.

Administrative / Biographical History

This major study was the result of fifteen years research into poverty in the United Kingdom. In 1964 the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust agreed to finance pilot studies on fatherless families, large families and unemployed and disabled people which were then to be followed by a national survey of poverty. In 1967-68, following the pilot work, interviews were completed with 2,052 households (6,045 people), in 630 parliamentary constituencies throughout the United Kingdom. Another 1,514 households (3,539 people), were later interviewed in four poor areas of Belfast, Glasgow, Salford and Neath to secure information about the populations of the poorest areas.

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 Poverty in the United Kingdom 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. (1979) Poverty in the United Kingdom, a Survey of Household Resources and Standards of Living, (London: Penguin Books and Allen Lane) .

Additional Information

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