Emeritus Professors

Professor Paul Thompson

Emailpaulth@essex.ac.uk
Biography

Born in 1935, Paul Thompson was educated at the University of Oxford, graduating in 1958 with First Class Honours in Modern History. He obtained a D.Phil (also at the University of Oxford) in 1964. This was entitled London working class politics and the formation of the London Labour Party, 1885-1914. I

Born in 1935, Paul Thompson was educated at the University of Oxford, graduating in 1958 with First Class Honours in Modern History. He obtained a D.Phil (also at the University of Oxford) in 1964. This was entitled London working class politics and the formation of the London Labour Party, 1885-1914. In 1964, having spent three years as a Junior Research Fellow at Queen's College, Oxford, Thompson was appointed Lecturer in Sociology (Social History), at the newly established University of Essex. He was to continue his research and teaching in sociology and social history at Essex, being appointed Research Professor in Sociology in 1988. Thompson is regarded as one of the pioneers of oral history as a research methodology. He is founding editor of the journal Oral History and founder of the National Life Story Collection at the British Library National Sound Archive, London. Between 1994 and 2001, as Director of Qualidata, University of Essex, Thompson actively pursued his interest in the preservation of qualitative research materials for secondary use, depositing his own datasets and overseeing the development of this archival service.

His experiences with the Edwardians were important in pioneering the methodology of oral history, and the research contributed to his later publication on method, The voice of the past: oral history (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, 2000).

In June 1996, Thompson himself, was the subject of an interview on his life story. Qualidata has made this interview available as both a Word document and a PDF document.

Current research

Current research projects are recording life stories with trans-national Jamaican families and with pioneers of social research. Founder editor of Oral History. Founder of the National Life Story Collection at the National Sound Archive.

Paul Thompson has recently conducted his research on Jamaican Transnational Families.  A couple of papers on this work can be found through the following links:

Publications

Has pioneered the development of life stories and oral history within sociology and social history. Author of The Edwardians (1975 and 1992), The Voice of the Past (1978, 1988 and 2000),The Work of William Morris (1967 and 1991), Living the Fishing (1983), I Don't Feel Old (1990), The Myths We Live By (1990), City Lives (1996), Pathways to Social Class (1998) and Growing up in Stepfamilies (1998). Carried out a national survey of 500 life-story interviews on family life, work and the community in Britain before 1918. This was followed by studies of the family and community life of Scottish fishermen and car workers in Coventry and Turin.

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