The Libraries Offer Mass Observation Online

September 06, 2019

Mass Observation Online makes available original manuscript and typescript papers created and collected by the British Mass Observation organization, as well as printed publications, photographs, and interactive maps.

A pioneering social research organization, Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, film-maker Humphrey Jennings, and poet Charles Madge. Their aim was to create an ‘anthropology of ourselves,’ and by recruiting a team of observers and a panel of volunteer writers they studied the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain.

Mass Observation Online
Mass Observation Online

This resource covers the original Mass Observation project, the bulk of which was carried out from 1937 until the mid-1950s, offering an unparalleled insight into everyday life in Britain during these transformative years. The Archive of Mass-Observation has been used by anthropologists, cultural and social historians, literary scholars, performance artists, sociologists, and those working in education, war studies, and gender studies.

The digital project includes a complete set of the File Reports, 1937-1972, with full text searching ability; access to all of the Day Surveys, Directives, and Diaries, 1937-1945; topic collections covering: famous persons, household budgeting, juvenile delinquency, Korea, peace & the public, radio listening, world outlook, film, reading habits, dreams, religion, victory celebrations, capital punishment, posters, smoking habits, drinking habits, gambling, and the September 1946 exhibition held at the Victoria & Albert Museum “Britain Can Make It.” In addition, this database includes The ‘Worktown Collection;‘ nine contextual essays by leading scholars describing the archive and suggesting research and teaching strategies; photographs by Humphrey Spender; interactive maps; and much valuable supporting material.

Mass Observation Online is just one of the online resources offered by the Library. Please check out our list of newest databases in our Databases A-Z list.

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