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Blitz Spirit: Voices of Britain Living Through Crisis, 1939-1945

BlitzSpirit'What extraordinary voices of Britain living through crisis! A brilliant testament to resilience.' Anne Glenconner

'A stirring and evocative account of life on the home front. Full of surprises that bring a fascinating perspective on the blitz spirit.' - Deborah Cadbury, author of Chocolate Wars and Princes at War

In Blitz Spirit, Becky Brown presents a collection of entries from the diaries ordinary British people sent in to Mass Observation during the Second World War. This new collection tell the human story of the Second World War, of the individuals grappling with a world turned upside down. From panic-buying and competitively digging for victory to extraordinary acts of bravery, Blitz Spirit is a remarkable collection of real wartime experiences that represent the best and worst of human nature in the face of adversity. Find out more about the book here

Observing the 1980s now on JSTOR

Observing the 1980s brings together, for the first time, ‘voices’ from both the Mass Observation Collections and the British Library Oral History Collections. This material offers a unique and inspiring insight into the lives and opinions of British people from all social classes and regions during the 1980s. This material is now available on JSTOR’s Open Community Collections.

JSTOR’s Open Community Collections is an initiative resource aimed at unlocking the potential of special collections archival collections by making them freely available on the platform for all to use.

You can access the Observing the 1980s collection here.

The Keep Opening Hours Consultation

The Keep is  asking for views on proposed changes to public opening hours. The Keep is an archive centre that offers free public access to the collections of the East Sussex & Brighton & Hove Record Office, Brighton and Hove Local History Collections, the University of Sussex Special Collections including Mass Observation Archive

The Keep is run in partnership between East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and the University of Sussex.

Why They Are Consulting

Funding for local government is reducing significantly. As a result, East Sussex County Council and Brighton and Hove City Council are having to make choices about how services are run across all their departments. They are considering ways to cut the costs of running The Keep by £125,000 a year, including a proposal to reduce The Keep’s opening hours. Find out more here.

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

Homecoming - image of book cover
'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

everyday childhoods

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.