Qualitative data

UK archives

There are qualitative data collections (usually in paper form) residing in Special Collections archives, regional archives and museums across the UK.

These include:

  • The National Social Policy and Social Change Archive, University of Essex: Set up and funded by Qualidata and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, this archive houses the raw data arising out of contemporary studies relating to social policy and social change. It includes a range of well-known pioneering classic studies from the social sciences, including the research papers of:
    • Peter Townsend
    • Elizabeth Bott
    • Dennis Marsden and Brian Jackson, amongst others.

The 37 collections are all fully catalogued in Discover.  For more details see the International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Theory and Practice Special Issue on Celebrating Classic Sociology: Pioneers of Contemporary British Qualitative Research which offers a fascinating insight into the dynamics, politics and realities of doing social research in the 1950s and 60s.

  • Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York: Includes records relating to surveys and enquiries, including the York Poverty surveys from 1930 to 1950.
  • British Library Sound Archive: The British Library's oral history collections cover a wide range of subject areas such as British colonialism, religion, the history of medicine, industry, politics, the arts, women's history and Jewish history.  Recordings from a programme of thematic life story recordings are available under the National Life Stories.
  • London School of Economics Archive: collections held cover modern British political, economic and social history, the history of the social sciences with particular reference to economics and social anthropology, and the history of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Mass Observation Archive, University of Sussex: The Mass Observation Archive specialises in material about everyday life in Britain. It contains papers generated by the original Mass Observation social research organisation (1937 to early 1950s), and newer material collected continuously since 1981. The Archive is in the care of the University of Sussex and is housed in the Library in Special Collections
  • Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick: The Centre holds primary sources for modern British social, political and economic history, with special concentration on the national history of industrial relations, industrial politics and labour history.
  • Radzinowicz Library, University of Cambridge: The library houses the most comprehensive criminology collection in the United Kingdom and is internationally recognised as a world-class criminal justice resource.

Gateways to Archives

  • Access to Archives (A2A), a database hosted by The National Archives (TNA), contains catalogues of archives held across England and dating from the 900s to the present day.
  • Archives Hub provides a single point of access to collection level descriptions of archives held in a number of UK universities and colleges. Research collections held in university archives that might include data can be searched for here.
  • The National Archives hosts 'Find an archive', a searchable list of over 2,500 archives in the UK and the rest of the world.   
European archives
International qualitative archives
International networking activities

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Discover UK Data Service