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Mass Observation - Recording everyday life in Britain

Tuesday 12th May 2015

Would you like to keep a one-day diary  for Mass Observation?

12th May 2014

Mass Observation is repeating its annual call for day diaries, capturing the everyday lives of people across the UK, on Tuesday 12th May 2015. 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.

Why 12th May?

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 2015 is likely to be quite an ordinary day, but for those researching, the ‘ordinary’ it can often provide extraordinary results.

How to take part

Write 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

1) Diaries should be in electronic form as email attachments (as word documents or pdfs, preferably) to

2) Please refrain from including your real name, contact details, or the personal details of the people mentioned in your diary. Please remember that these diaries will be read and used for research and teaching, so don’t include anything that may identify you or others.

3) You should include a brief self portrait: your age, where you live, your relationship status, your present job or occupation if you are working and any other information that you think is important to record.

4) 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.

5) 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 and in broadcasts as approved by the Mass Observation Trustees. I agree to the Mass Observation Archive assuming the role of Data Controller and the Archive will be responsible for the collection and processing of personal data and ensuring that such data complies with the DPA.”

We can't thank you personally for your diary but keep an eye on our website for news of the project. An online exhibition with some of the diaries sent in as part of the 12th May 2010 diary call can be seen here.

We would also welcome diaries from school children, community groups, or other organisations. Please get in touch if you could like to discuss how your group can take part or download our 12th May diary pack:

12th May diary folder

12th May diary template

12th May at the Open Market, Brighton

On the 12th May we will be at The Open Market in Brighton. If you are at the Market on this day please help us document the market community. See more details here

12th May: Tweet us your day

If you are on Twitter you can tweet us your diary or follow the 12th May by using the hashtag #12May15. All tweets will be added to the Archives Storify page.