A brief history
Origins of Mass Observation, 1937-50s
The Archive results from the work of the social research organisation, Mass Observation. This organisation was founded in 1937 by three young men, 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. This original work continued until the early 1950s. Find out more about the original Mass Observation project.
The Archive at the University of Sussex, 1970
In 1970, the Archive came to the University of Sussex and was opened up as a public resource for historical research. The Archive holds all the material generated by Mass Observation between 1937 and 1949, with a few later additions from the 1950s and 1960s.
The Mass Observation Project
The original Mass Observation idea of a national panel was revived from the Archive in 1981. Through the press, televison and radio, new volunteer writers or 'Mass Observation correspondents' were recruited from all over Britain.
Find out more about the Mass Observation Project here.
Designated status & celebrations
In 2006, the Mass Observation Archive was awarded Designated status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). Find out more about the Designation Scheme here.
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. To find out more about the events click here.