50 Years of Sociology at Edinburgh: Professor Tom Burns

In 1964 the Sociology department at University of Edinburgh was founded by Tom Burns. A prominent sociologist and one of the first sociologists to be elected to a Fellowship of the British Academy, Professor Burns worked at the University until his retirement in 1981.

The Centre for Research Collections at the University Library holds Professor Burns papers. Although these are currently uncatalogued and require some extensive conservation work, I was allowed a sneak peak at a box of offprints that is part of his collection of papers (Tom Burns offprints: Accession no. E2002.6).


The City as Looking Glass by Tom Burns in Prospect (1960)

The offprints are a selection of journal articles, book chapters, working group reports, etc., that Tom Burns authored. The collection includes original manuscripts of journal articles written by typewriter, such as the English language version of “Ends and means in management” which is noted to be published, in translation, in Sociologie du Travail.


Typewritten article “Ends and means in management” by Tom Burns (1962).


Corrections by Tom Burns?

There are copies of articles and chapters including some handwritten corrections (perhaps written by Tom Burns himself?) and there are whole journal issues which include a piece by Tom Burns such as Prospect: the quarterly journal of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, again this has some handwritten notes on it.

Although this is a small collection of offprints it shows Tom Burns wide ranging scholarly interests and is a thought-provoking collection of work.

The University Library also holds in its collections various books, book chapters and articles authored by Tom Burns and using Resource Lists @ Edinburgh we’ve put together a Professor Tom Burns reading list with just a small selection of these books and articles that University of Edinburgh staff and students can access through the University Library.

Professor Tom Burns reading list

The Sociology department are holding several events throughout 2014 to celebrate 50 Years of Sociology at Edinburgh and you can find more information on these events on Sociology’s own website:


An anniversary conference is being held this week, 2-3rd July 2014, and you can find more information about this at Sociology 50th Anniversary Conference.

Thanks to Graeme D. Eddie,  Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, for facilitating access to Tom Burns offprints.

Caroline Stirling – Academic Support Librarian for Social and Political Science.



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