Volunteers urged to keep one-day diary for 80th anniversary of Mass Observation

By Rosemary Collins, 10 May 2017 - 2:46pm

The project, started on 12 May 1937, aims to create a record of ordinary people’s lives


The Mass Observation Archive wants volunteers to submit their diaries

Could you keep a record of everything you do this Friday? The Mass Observation Archive is seeking volunteers to commemorate the start of a research project into ordinary people’s lives.

12 May 2017 marks 80 years since the start of the Mass Observation Project on 12 May 1937 – the day of George VI’s coronation.

The Mass Observation Archive wants as many volunteers as possible to document everything they do on Friday - what they do, who they meet, what they talk about, what they eat and drink, what they buy or sell, their work, the places they visit, the people they meet, the things they read, see and hear, how they are feeling and what they think. It is also seeking diaries from school children, community groups and other organisations.

The written diaries will be stored in the Archive be used for research and teaching by groups including academics, students, schools, writers, producers, artists, community and special interest groups and the general public. For this reason, volunteers are asked to include brief details such as their age, location, job and relationship status, but not their names or anything else that may identify them or others.

Mass Observation was established by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, film-maker Humphrey Jennings and journalist Charles Madge. It began with a number of projects observing how ordinary people lived, initially in Bolton.

During the Second World War 500 people took daily diaries of their lives. The diary of Nella Last from Barrow-in-Furness became famous when it was published and subsequently adapted into the 2006 TV play Housewife, 49, starring Victoria Wood.

The University of Sussex, which holds the original Mass Observation archives, resurrected the Mass Observation Project in 1981, and relaunched the 12 May diary project in 2010.

To take part, click here. 

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Mass Observation and the lives of ordinary people
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Genealogy news roundup: Volunteers urged to keep one-day diary for 80th anniversary of Mass Observation
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