University of Sussex logo Home|Special collections

Mass Observation - Recording everyday life in Britain

Monday 12th May 2014

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

12th May 2014

This year the Mass Observation Archive will be repeating its annual call for day diaries, 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.  The diaries will be held and used alongside the 1937 documents. We would be very grateful if you could document your May 12th 2014 for the future.

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. 

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, your present job or occupation if you are working and any other information that you think is important to record.
  • 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 and in broadcasts as approved by the Trustees

Please submit your responses by email moa@sussex.ac.uk

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

.