Those students who were among the first sociology graduates in the UK barely feature in standard histories of the discipline, which all have an intellectual and institutional focus. This article remedies this neglect by researching the social backgrounds and later careers of sociology graduates from the London School of Economics and Political Science [LSE] and Bedford College for Women from the first such graduate in 1907 until those graduating in the 1930s. Data for this exercise were compiled from a variety of sources. The more important are: UK censuses, especially that of 1911; various civil registration records; archived student files; and, for the graduates who entered university teaching, issues of the Yearbook of the Universities of the Empire [later the Commonwealth Universities' Yearbook]. The dataset includes all identified graduates in the BSc(Econ), Special Subject Sociology, degree from 1907 to 1935 and all in the BA (Honours) in Sociology degree from 1925 to 1939. LSE sociology graduates tended to be older and to have more cosmopolitan backgrounds, with fathers more likely than for Bedford College graduates to come from commercial rather than professional backgrounds. Both institutions' graduates' careers tended to the Civil Service and local government. LSE graduates gravitated to education, especially to higher education if male, whilst those of Bedford College went into welfare work, countering a stereotype from some previous literature that especially women graduates were heavily constrained to follow careers in schoolteaching. The article also gives comparisons with the social-class profile and career destinations of several cohorts of postwar sociology graduates, noting a number of similarities.
Keywords: Bedford College for Women; History of sociology; London School of Economics and Political Science; careers; social characteristics; sociology graduates.
© London School of Economics and Political Science 2015.