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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. 

Digitising the Mass Observation Project

Did you write for the Mass Observation project in the period 1980-1989? As part of the further development of the Mass Observation project, the Mass Observation team are collaborating with their historic publishing partner Adam Matthew Digital to digitise and further engage with the academic community. We’re hoping to get in contact with all Mass Observers who contributed to the project in the time period 1980 – 1989 to discuss this exciting project and what it’ll mean for research and academia in the future.

Adam Matthew Digital has a twenty-eight-year history working with libraries and archives to make archival material available on a digital platform and international stage. Their previous work with us resulted in the fascinating and extensive Mass Observation Online, which made available the papers and material from the early Mass Observation Archive dating from 1937 to the mid-1950s to academics, researchers and students at libraries, universities and archives all over the world. This collection is viewed as an essential insight into the social history of Britain in the 20th century and the continuation of this digital collection will further enhance research and teaching for modern audiences.

If you, or someone you know, contributed to the Mass Observation project between 1980 and 1989, we’d like to hear from you. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Mass Observation Archive is now a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation

The Mass Observation Archive is now a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (registered charity number: 1179673). This organisation replaces the previous charitable trust (number: 270218). 

New Book from the Archive: Continuity and Change in Voluntary Action: Patterns, trends and Understandings

Continuity and Change in Voluntary Action: Patterns, trends and Understandings
Rose Lindsey and John Mohan with Elizabeth Mecalfe and Sarah Bulloch

There are great expectations of voluntary action in contemporary Britain but there is limited in-depth insight into the level, distribution and understanding of what constitutes voluntary activity. Drawing on extensive survey data and written accounts of citizen engagement, this book charts change and continuity in voluntary activity since 1981.


How voluntary action has been defined and measured is considered alongside individuals’ accounts of their participation and engagement in volunteering over their life-courses. Addressing fundamental questions such as whether the public are cynical about or receptive to calls for greater voluntary action, the book considers whether respective government expectations of volunteering can really be fulfilled. Is Britain really a “shared society”, or a “big society”, and what is the scope for expansion of voluntary effort?


This pioneering study combines rich, qualitative material from the Mass Observation Archive between 1981 and 2012, and data from many longitudinal and cross-sectional social surveys.

Opportunity with SAGE

Have you used Mass Observation data for research? Or collected qualitative data as part of a research project?

SAGE Publishing are looking to commission a series of data-sets by researchers that will illustrate how different methods could be applied to narrative data.

If you are interested in finding out further information see the SAGE website

Permission would be required from our Literary Agents on behalf of the Mass Observation Trustees if you choose to use Mass Observation material as fees may apply.

12th May and Action for M.E

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The Mass Observation Archive is working in partnership with Action for M.E during M.E Awareness Month to record people’s experience of living with the chronic neurological condition myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E) on the 12th May. More details about taking part in the 12th May project can be found here. We are also accepting diaries via text message. The number is 07537404300

New publication - Our History of the 20th Century: As Told in Diaries, Journals and Letters

Elborough Our HistoryNew publication! - Our History of the 20th Century: As Told in Diaries, Journals and Letters.

Compiled by Travis Elborough

What better way to understand Britain during the twentieth century than through the eyes of those who experienced it at first hand? Travis Elborough's compilation offers brilliantly candid and intimate insights not only into the headline-grabbing events but also the domestic  and personal moments of those who lived through it.

The book draws on over one hundred diarists. They include the great and the good - from Beatrice Webb to Tony Benn, from A. C. Benson to Alan Bennett, from Virginia Ironside to Hanif Kureishi - as well as many less-well-known individuals such as Gladys Langford and Kathleen Tipper, whose writings for the Mass Observation Project offer brilliant glimpses into what the man or woman on the street really made of the stuff of history at the time.

From the Easter Rising to the arrival of email, from the Boer War to New Labour, here are responses to the death of Princess Diana, the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, the Moon landing, the Beatles and much more.


Travis Elborough has co-edited two previous anthologies of diaries, A London Year and A Traveller's Year. A freelance writer, author and cultural commentator for nearly two decades, his other books include The Long-Player Goodbye, a hymn to vinyl records; Wish You Were Here, a survey of the British beside the seaside and most recently A Walk in the Park: The Life and Times of a People's Institution.