For access to a breadth of rich primary documents related to British social history, we encourage you to explore Mass Observation Online. This resource comprises original manuscripts, typescript papers, printed publications, photographs and interactive features created and collected by the Mass-Observation organization. Founded in 1937 by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, filmmaker Humphrey Jennings and poet Charles Madge, the Mass-Observation organization comprised a team of observers studying the everyday lives of ordinary British people from 1937 until the mid-1950s.
The collection includes:
- A complete set of the File Reports, 1937-1951, with full text searching ability
- Access to all of the Day Surveys 1937-1938, Directives 1939-1955 and Diaries, 1939-1967
- Topic Collections 1937-1965, with full text searchability
- The ‘Worktown Collection’
- Mass-Observation Publications
- Eighteen contextual essays by leading scholars describing the archive and suggesting research and teaching strategies, and four occasional papers
- Photographs by Humphrey Spender, an interactive map and chronology, and much valuable supporting material
Take a tour of the collection here or sample some contents:
- File Reports: Government Posters in Wartime.
- Diary: Diarist 5090. (Daily life and observations of a bank worker in 1939)
- Publication: Mass-Observation. 1949. Meet Yourself on Sunday. London: Naldrett. Available through: Adam Matthew, Marlborough, Mass Observation Online,
- Topic Collection: Astrology and Spiritualism 1938-1947.
For more information about the Mass-Observation organization, check out these excellent library resources:
- Cockett, O., & Malcolmson, R. W. (2005). Love & war in London: A woman’s diary, 1939-1942. Waterloo, Ont: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. D811.5 .C6 2005, KOERNER LIBRARY stacks and online.
- Cross, G. (2005). Worktowners at Blackpool: Mass-Observation and popular leisure in the 1930s. Hoboken: Routledge. GV76.E7 B588 1990 KOERNER LIBRARY stacks
- Hubble, N. (2006). Mass-Observation and everyday life: Culture, history, theory. New York; Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. HN16 .H83 2006, KOERNER LIBRARY stacks and online.
- Kushner, T. (2004). We Europeans?: Mass-observation, ‘race’ and British identity in the twentieth century. Burlington, VT; Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate. DA589.4 .K87 2004, KOERNER LIBRARY stacks.
- Madge, C., Harrisson, T., & Mass-Observation (Firm). (1939). Britain by Mass-Observation. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Eng: Penguin Books, limited. DA566.4 .M3 I. K. BARBER stacks and online.
- Richards, J., Wainwright, D., & Mass-Observation (Firm). (1987). Mass-Observation at the movies. New York; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. PN1993.5.G7 M324 1987
- Stanley, L. (1995). Sex surveyed, 1949-1994: From Mass-Observation’s “little Kinsey” to the national survey and the Hite reports. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis. HQ21 .S6249 1995, KOERNER LIBRARY stacks.