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The Keep will re-open on 28th July 2020

keep logo goldThe Keep, the home of the Mass Observation Archive, will reopen to the public on Tuesday 28 July on an appointment-only system. The team at The Keep have been working hard to ensure that the building complies with Covid Secure regulations and that visitors and staff can safely work in the building.

You can find out more about visiting The Keep by clicking here

Life-Writing of Immeasurable Events at The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing

The Mass Observation Archive has partnered with The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing on their Life-Writing of Immeasurable Events project during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each week they will be sending creative prompt, which people will be free to interpret as they wish and submit a response to the Centre. More details can be found on The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing's website here

Homecoming by Colin Grant

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'Prickles with beautiful, comic and brutal details'  - Observer
** A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week**

Homecoming draws on over a hundred first-hand interviews, archival recordings (including the Mass Observation Archive) and memoirs by the women and men who came to Britain from the West Indies between the late 1940s and the early 1960s. In their own words, we witness the transition from the optimism of the first post-war arrivals to the race riots of the late 1950s. We hear from nurses in Manchester; bus drivers in Bristol; seamstresses in Birmingham; teachers in Croydon; dockers in Cardiff; inter-racial lovers in High Wycombe, and Carnival Queens in Leeds. These are stories of hope and regret, of triumphs and challenges, brimming with humour, anger and wisdom. Homecoming by Colin Grant they reveal a rich tapestry of Caribbean British lives.

100 Voices that Made the BBC

On 3 September 1939 Britain went to war with Hitler’s Germany. In the fight against fascism, broadcasting played a starring role: as informant, morale-booster, propaganda weapon. Eighty years on, the BBC has opened up its the archives to shed new light on how the BBC shaped the experience of war – and how the war transformed the BBC in return.

'The 100 Voices that Made the BBC' is part of the Connected Histories of the BBC project. This project is led by the University of Sussex, in partnership with the BBC, Mass Observation, the Science Museum Group and the British Entertainment History Project. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The material in this edition is curated and written by David Hendy and Alban Webb from the University of Sussex, with additional material from John Escolme (BBC).

For more information visit the 100 voices that made the BBC website.  

The Summer 2019 edition of the Mass Observation Bulletin

You can now download the 2019 edition of the Mass Observation Bulletin here

The Everyday Childhoods collection is now on Figshare

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The Everyday Childhoods collection is a qualitative longitudinal dataset that was collected by researchers from the Universities of Sussex and Brighton and the Open University during 2013-14.

You can access the material on Figshare.  

12th May: Mass Observation works with the Motor Neurone Disease Association


The Mass Observation Archive is delighted to be working the Motor Neurone Disease Association on the 12th May project this year. 

Every day six people are diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Another six people die.

The Motor Neurone Disease Association works to support people affected by the disease, coordinates care, and campaigns with and on behalf of those people.
In the Association’s 40th anniversary year people with the disease, their families, carers, and health and social care professionals have been invited to join the thousands of people from across the country who contribute their 12 May diaries to the Mass Observation Archive.

This opportunity has given people living with MND, a disease which robs them of the ability to move, eat, talk and ultimately to breathe, the chance to share details of their daily life with generations to come.

Some will write their diaries by hand, others may record them for transcription using technology and their synthesised voice, others will type them using eyegaze technology - manipulating a cursor around a screen using their eyes.
With scientists and researchers striving for treatments and a cure for MND, the hope is that the stories recorded today will give our descendants an insight into a disease which no longer exists outside of medical text books.

For information visit

For help and advice call MND Connect on 0808 802 6262 or e-mail us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

12th May and the Carers Centre for Brighton & Hove

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The Mass Observation Archive is delighted to be working Carers Centre for Brighton & Hove on the 12th May project this year.  

The Carers Centre for Brighton & Hove is the city’s local, life-changing carers charity. They recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. Since 1988 they have been providing family carers with emotional support, advice and a well-deserved break from their caring role.

NEW BOOK: Growing Old with the Welfare State: Eight British Lives

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Nick Hubble, Jennie Taylor and Philip Tew, eds, Growing Old with the Welfare State: Eight British Lives, Bloomsbury Academic, 158pp, hardback ISBN: 978-1-3500-3310-8 £65.00, paperback ISBN: 978-13500-3309-2 £19.99, ebook ISBN: 978-1-3500-3311-5 £21.58 All versions currently available at reduced rates for pre-order from Bloomsbury website. Published 16 May 2019.

The combined effect of the welfare state and medical advances means that more people now live longer lives than ever before in history. As a consequence, the experience of ageing has been transformed. Yet our cultural and social perceptions of ageing remain governed by increasingly dated images and narratives.

Growing Old with the Welfare State challenges these stereotypes by bringing together eight previously unpublished stories of ordinary British people born between 1925 and 1945 to show contemporary ageing in a new light. These biographical narratives, six of which were written as part of the Mass Observation Project and the other two by members of the University of the Third Age, reflect on and compare the experience of living of those who grew up in two post-war periods of social change, after the first and second world wars. In doing so, these stories, along with their accompanying contextual chapters, provide a valuable and accessible resource for social historians, and expose both historical and contemporary views of age and ageing that challenge modern assumptions.

These stories come from a research project called ‘Fiction and the Cultural Mediation of Ageing’ (FCMAP) that was carried out by the Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing (BCCW) at Brunel University London as part of the UK-wide New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA) research programme, co-ordinated by Professor Alan Walker (Sheffield University) for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Previous project publications including Mass Observation material include: Bazalgette, Holden, Tew, Hubble and Morrison, Coming of Age (Demos, 2011; free to download) and Nick Hubble and Philip Tew, Ageing, Narrative and Identity: New Qualitative Social Research (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Growing Old with the Welfare State tells us what it is like to grow old in modern Britain. Each chapter focuses on the experience of a single individual recorded over a period of twenty years. Each shows that growing old is an active process, that can be marked by love and unexpected opportunity as well as by loss and anxiety. But the book offers more than a series of beautifully moving individual histories - it also shows us the complex ways in which age, historical context and generational identity work together to frame attitude and experience. - Claire Langhamer, Professor of Modern British History, University of Sussex, UK

The Mass Observation Archive joins NCVO

The Mass Observation Archive is now a member of National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). THe NCVO supports over 14,000 voluntary sector organisations across England. As a member, the MOA will benefit from the services NCVO offers, including strategic, operational and practical guidence.