Biography : Professor Paul Thompson
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).