Monday 12th May 2014: Mass Observation

MO_Logo+strap-36mm(mono)Are any of you keeping a one day diary for Mass Observation?  Download a 12th May Diary Template.

This year the Mass Observation Archive will be capturing the everyday lives of people across the UK. The diaries will be stored in the Archive at The Keep and be used by a wide range of people for research, teaching and learning including academics and students, schools, writers, producers, artists, community and special interest groups and the general public.

In 1937 Mass Observation called for people from all parts of the UK to record everything they did from when they woke up in the morning to when they went to sleep at night on 12th May. This was the day of George VI’s Coronation. The resulting diaries provide a wonderful glimpse into the everyday lives of people across Britain, and have become an invaluable resource for those researching countless aspects of the era.

May 12th 2014 is likely to be quite an ordinary day, but for those researching, the ‘ordinary’ can often provide extraordinary results.

Write, photograph and/or draw as much as you can about what you do, who you meet, what you talk about, what you eat and drink, what you buy or sell, what you are working on, the places you visit, the people you meet, the things you read, see and hear around you, how you are feeling and of course what you yourself think.

Photo consent
Please ensure you have relevant consent and permission prior to including photographs in your diary.

Mass Education Exhibition
Selected diaries containing photographs will be exhibited during 2014 at the University of
Brighton as well as online as part of the Heritage Lottery funded Mass Education project for the
Mass Observation Archive.

As part of this project, we will be hosting workshops for families, general public and community groups to engage with the Archive and participate in the Mass Education project during the summer and autumn of 2014.

We would like to keep you informed of project updates and opportunities to participate, therefore by submitting your diary we’ll add you to the Mass Education project mailing list. Your details will not be passed on to anyone else or to third party. If you do not want to receive emails, please just say.

How to take part
Diaries should be in electronic form – emails or as email attachments (as word documents or pdfs, preferably).
You should include a brief self portrait: your age, where you live, your relationship status, occupation, background and any other information that you think is important to record.

If you would like to keep your diary anonymous, please do not include names of people or organisations, addresses and/or identifiable photographs.

If 12th May was a typical day for you please say so. If not, please say why it wasn’t. Any
reflections on the day and on how you felt while keeping the diary are welcome.

So that we can add your diary to the rest of the Archive for the future, please include the statement below at the end of your diary. If you don’t attach this statement, we won’t be able to keep your diary or make it part of the Archive.

“I donate my 12th May diary to the Mass Observation Archive. I consent to it being made publicly available as part of the Archive and assign my copyright in the diary to the Mass Observation Archive Trustees so that it can be reproduced in full or in part on websites, in publications, exhibitions and in broadcasts as approved by the Trustees’’

Please email your diary to:

We would also welcome diaries from school children, community groups, or other organisations. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how your group can take part, please contact:

Ratna Jan Bibi
Mass Education Project Coordinator
The Mass Observation Archive, The Keep, Woollards Way, Brighton, BN1 9BP

Further Information

Mass Observation Archive
The Mass Observation Archive is a social research organisation, which was founded in 1937 by a group of people, who aimed to create an ‘anthropology of ourselves’. They recruited a team of observers and a panel of volunteer writers to study the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain.

In 2012 the Mass Observation Archive celebrated 30 years of the Mass Observation Project and the foundation of the original Mass Observation organisation 75 years ago.

Today, as part of the University of Sussex’s Special Collections at The Keep, the Archive preserves the papers of the original Mass Observation and makes them publicly available.

Mass Education
The Mass Education project aims to inspire and engage wider audiences with the unique Mass
Observation Archive, which comprises of over 3,000 archival boxes of documents collected by the social research organisation, Mass Observation during its periods of activity (1937-1950’s & 1981 to present).

The Mass Education project will focus upon Mass Observation activities and diaries and the theme of recording everyday life, providing the opportunity to explore, examine, analyse, debate and learn about daily life in Britain. It will use wartime and post-war material alongside directive and day diary material from the post-1981 Mass Observation Project to inspire participants to relate archives to their contemporary lives increasing their understanding of the value of heritage to all in the community.

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