There are qualitative data collections (usually in paper form) residing in Special Collections archives, regional archives and museums across the UK. Some of 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. The collection includes a range of well-know pioneering classic studies from the social sciences including works by Peter Townsend; Ray Pahl; Elizabeth Bott; Dennis Marsden; Brian Jackson; Jan Pahl’s study on marital violence; and Annette Lawson’s study on adultery. The Pioneers collection in QualiBank provides online access to some of these studies. 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: Originally established as a specialist Church of England archive, it now includes records relating to surveys and enquiries, including the York Poverty surveys from 1930 to 1950.
  • British Library Sound Archive: Also known at the National Sound Archive. The British Library hosts the UK’s national sound archive, and one of the largest collections of sound recordings in the world. The 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.
  • Imperial War Museum Archive: This national reference library has over a million items documenting the story of modern war and conflict. Its comprehensive and diverse collections explore conflict involving British and Commonwealth countries since 1917.
  • London School of Economics Archive: The special collections held at the London School of Economics (LSE) cover modern British political, economic and social history, the development of social sciences in Britain and the history of LSE.
  • 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 unique in that it coordinates both the collection and preservation of data held within its archive.
  • Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick: The Modern Records Centre is the main British repository for national archives of trade unions and employers’ organisations, but contains wider collections on pressure groups, protest groups and other non-mainstream British political groups. The collections have been recognised to be of national and international importance through the Designation Scheme of the Arts Council.
  • 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) is a database hosted by The National Archives (TNA), containing 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.
  • The Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) Data Catalogue searches over 40,000 data collections made available by CESSDA’s service providers, who are located in 20 countries across Europe.