Michael Young was born in Hale, Cheshire, 9 August 1915, the son of Gibson Young and Edith Dunlop, and brought up in 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; Sasha Moorsom in 1960 (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).
Papers comprising manuscripts of books, articles, lectures, diaries, correspondence, press cuttings, photographs, video and 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.
The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre by Michael Young, 2001, and by Toby Young, on behalf of Michael Young's executors, 2003. Additional papers have been deposited via Asa Briggs, 2003, and by Jeremy Mitchell and Phyllis Willmott, 2004.
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.