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The Papers of Michael Young

Reference Code: GBR/0014/YUNG

Scope and Contents

Papers comprising manuscripts of books, articles, lectures, research data, diaries, correspondence, press cuttings, photographs, video and audio tape recordings.

The bulk of the collection is formed by Michael Young's correspondence subject files about organisations he was involved in starting up or with existing organisations who collaborated in his ventures. There is also substantial correspondence with individuals, including family, friends, colleagues and financial backers. A full series of articles and lectures is included, most notably a large number of lectures given at Cambridge University, but there is very little material about books. Valuable biographical information is contained in the transcripts, videos and audio tapes of interviews.


  • Creation: 1928 - 2002

Biographical / Historical

Michael Dunlop Young was born in Hale, Cheshire, 9 August 1915, the son of Ernest Gibson Young and Edith Hermia Young (née Dunlop), and brought up in Melbourne, Australia, 1917-23. He was educated at Dartington Hall School, 1929-33, and the London School of Economics, BSc, 1938, and PhD, 1955. He married Joan Lawson in 1945 (divorced 1960), with whom he had two sons and one daughter; (Ruth) Sasha Moorsom in 1961 (died 1993), with whom he had one son and one daughter; and Dorit Uhlemann in 1995, with whom he had one daughter.

He joined a firm of solicitors, McKenna and Co, London, 1933-5, and was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn, 1939. He worked at Political and Economic Planning (PEP), 1939-45, and in the Research Department of the Labour Party, 1945-51, where he was one of the draftsmen of the 1945 election manifesto "Let Us Face the Future". He established the Institute of Community Studies in Bethnal Green, London, and became its first Director, 1953-2001. He carried out research at the Center for Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, California, 1958-9. He was Lecturer in Sociology, Cambridge University, 1961-3; a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, 1961-6; and Chairman of the Social Science Research Council, 1965-8.

From his base at the Institute of Community Studies, he was involved in the creation of many new organisations, including the Consumers' Association, 1956, and "Which?" magazine, 1957; the Advisory Centre for Education, 1959; the National Extension College, 1962; the Open University, 1969; the International Extension College, 1970; the Mutual Aid Centre, 1977; the University of the Third Age, 1982; the College of Health, 1983; Healthline, 1986; the Open College of the Arts, 1987; the Open School, 1989; Language Line, 1990; the National Association for the Education of Sick Children, 1993; the National Funerals College, 1994; and the School for Social Entrepeneurs, 1998.

He was created a life peer, as Lord Young of Dartington, 1978. He was a trustee of Dartington Hall, 1942-92; an honorary fellow of the London School of Economics, 1978-2002, and Churchill College, Cambridge, 1995-2002; and President of Birkbeck College, London, 1989-92.

He died on 14 January 2002.

His publications include: with Peter Willmott, "Family and Kinship in East London" (1957); "The Rise of the Meritocracy" (1958); with Peter Willmott, "Family and Class in a London Suburb" (1960); "Innovation and Research in Education" (1965); with Patrick McGeeney, "Learning Begins at Home" (1968); with Peter Willmott, "The Symmetrical Family" (1973); "The Elmhirsts of Dartington" (1982); with Marianne Rigge, "Revolution from Within: co-operatives and co-operation in British industry" (1983); "Social Scientist as Innovator" (1983); "The Metronomic Society" (1988); with Tom Schuller, "The Rhythms of Society" (1988); with Tom Schuller, "Life After Work" (1991); with Sasha Moorsom Young, "Your Head in Mine" (1994); with Lesley Cullen, "A Good Death" (1996); and with Gerard Lemos, "Communities We Have Lost and Can Regain" (1997).


382 archive box(es)

Language of Materials



The papers comprise Michael Young's working files from the Institute of Community Studies, dating mainly from the 1960s until his retirement in 2001. The files were organised by subject by Sue Chisholm and other administrators working at the Institute and their order has been preserved. Only the correspondence section has been substantially rearranged in alphabetical rather than chronological order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre by Michael Young, 2001, and Toby and Sophie Young, on behalf of Michael Young's executors, 2003 and 2021. Additional papers have been deposited by Asa Briggs, 2003; Jeremy Mitchell, 2004; Phyllis Willmott, 2004; Paul Barker, 2010; and the Young Foundation, 2010, 2015-16.

Related Materials

Churchill Archives Centre also holds the papers of Michael Young's wife, Sasha Moorsom Young (reference: YONG); his collaborators, Peter and Phyllis Willmott (reference: WLMT); and his biographer, Asa Briggs (reference: BRIG).

Related Materials

Some of Michael Young's earlier papers are held in the Dartington Hall archives at Devon Record Office.


This collection was catalogued by Sophie Bridges at Churchill Archives Centre, July 2004, supported by a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies. Biographical information was obtained from "Who Was Who 1897-1996" (A and C Black); Michael Young's obituaries in "The Times" and "The Guardian", 16 January 2002 ; and Asa Briggs, "Michael Young. Social Entrepreneur" (2001).


Young, Michael Dunlop, 1915-2002, Baron Young of Dartington, sociologist

2003-06-17 10:04:40+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087