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News

New publication - The Great British Aunt: A History

The Great British Aunt: A History by Patricia M. Cattley has been published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. The book focuses on the factual and fictional roles played by aunts and is dedicated to the aunts, nieces and nephews who shared their experiences of 'Great British Auntdom.'

Drawing on archival evidence of the lives of ‘ordinary’ aunts and their kin alongside accounts of the aunts of Britain’s best loved cultural figures including Winston Churchill and Agatha Christie, The Great British Aunt explores the evolving roles of aunts from the 19th century to the present day. Who counts as an ‘aunt’? Were everyday aunts anything like the celebrated aunts of literature and film? Why is the BBC referred to as ‘auntie’? How did aunts hold the family together during wartime? Structured  chronologically, each chapter examines key themes and traits of British aunts, encompassing embarrassing aunts, bicycling aunts, feminist aunts, liberal aunts, gossiping aunts, disapproving aunts, lesbian aunts, travelling aunts, and more.

The Great British Aunt reveals the British aunt’s unique character and hitherto unappreciated contribution to society during a century of unprecedented upheaval.

 

Patricia M. Cattley is an independent researcher in sociology, cultural studies and ageing. She is a published poet and scholar, a retirement planning consultant, and an experienced aunt.

 

New Publication! A Londoner in Lancashire 1941-1943

Annie HolnessA Londoner in Lancashire 1941-1943: The Diary of Annie Beatrice Holness (edited by Patricia and Robert Malcolmson, published by the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 2016)

Annie Beatrice Holness, a middle-aged London civil servant, was evacuated with her office to the seaside town of Morecambe in 1940. A year later she began writing for Mass Observation. Her observant and thoughtful diary recorded everyday life in all its diversity – her billet, her country walks, her dreary job, her usually gratifying leisure activities (night classes, music and theatre, her allotment garden), the congestion and sights and sounds of wartime Morecambe, such as WAAFs training and throngs of holiday visitors on the promenade. Annie also disclosed her feelings about the setbacks and advances of the war and her attitudes to such issues as social reform, farming practices, religious belief, and the rights of women, especially in the workplace – though reticent on many matters, she was decidedly a feminist. Her perspectives often shifted, as war forced her and others to change. Feeling – as she often lamented – an ‘exile’ in Morecambe, she returned to London in 1945, but two years later chose to come back to Morecambe and settle there permanently. This edition focuses on the years when her diary was at its richest, between 1941 and 1943.

Patricia Malcolmson and Robert Malcolmson are historians who have written books and articles on English social history since the eighteenth century. In recent years they have edited for publication numerous twentieth-century diaries, most of them held in the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex. These include Nella Last’s Peace (2008), Nella Last in the 1950s (2010), The Diaries of Nella Last: Writing in War and Peace (2012), Kathleen Hey, The View from the Corner Shop: The Diary of a Yorkshire Shop Assistant in Wartime (2016), and several scholarly editions for various record societies (London, Bedfordshire, Dorset, and Surrey). Their latest authored books are Women at the Ready: The Remarkable Story of the Women’s Voluntary Services on the Home Front (2013) and Wartime Cumbria 1939-1945: A Social History (forthcoming), and Patricia’s Me and My Hair: A Social History (2012).

Call for Papers published: The Mass Observation 80th Anniversary Conference, 10th-11th July University of Sussex

 

The Mass Observation 80th Anniversary ConferenceMass Observation 80th Anniversary Logo

Celebrating 80 years of the Mass Observation movement

10th-11th July 2017

Jubilee building, University of Sussex

Confirmed Speakers:

Matt Cook (Birkbeck)

James Hinton (Professor Emeritus Warwick University)

Joe Moran (Liverpool John Moores)

Lucy Noakes (University of Brighton)

Lucy Robinson (University of Sussex)

Dorothy Sheridan (University of Sussex and current Trustee of the Mass Observation Archive)

Fees:
Standard delegate rate: £100
Student delegate rate: £60

Call for Papers:

In 1937, a letter signed by Tom Harrisson (anthropologist), Humphrey Jennings (film maker) and Charles Madge (poet and journalist) was published in the pages of the New Statesman. It invited volunteers, from all walks of life, to participate in a new research project, which would be "anthropology at home . . . a science of ourselves". This letter announced the founding of Mass Observation which, over the last 80 years, has developed a unique interdisciplinary people-centred approach to social research. 

From its rapid rise to the status of national institution in the Popular-Front culture of the late 1930s, it has passed through a number of incarnations. These include (but are not limited to): observing the everyday in late 1930s Bolton on a shoestring budget; amassing a collection of diaries by over 500 home front civilians; collecting ‘home intelligence’ for the Ministry of Information for a short period during the early 1940s; working as a commercial market-research company during the 1950s/1960s; becoming an archive at the University of Sussex in the 1970s (now at The Keep) and being relaunched in the 1980s as the Mass Observation Project, a longitudinal life writing project, which captures the experiences, thoughts and opinions of ‘everyday’ people in 21st century Britain.

This conference seeks to reflect all aspects of Mass Observation and beyond. The conference organisers invite submissions from across the disciplines and proposals from those at all stages of their career, including postgraduates, doctoral students and early career researchers. 

We welcome proposals for individual 20 minute papers, as well as submissions of panels with chairs

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Everyday life
  • Life writing
  • MO and the Second World War
  • Anthropology and Mass Observation
  • Representation of identity in MO
  • Surrealism
  • Documentary movement
  • The Mass Observation founders
  • Methodology
  • Community engagement
  • 20th and 21st century Britain
  • The Mass Observation Project 
  • Mass Observation in the digital world
  • Mass Observation and beyond

 

Proposals (300 words max) and brief biographies should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Monday 16th January 2017.

Download the Call for Papers as a PDF

New book from the Archive: Mass Photography

Mass PhotographyWith increasingly accessible camera technology, crowd-sourced public media projects are abound like never before. Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life assesses the potential of these popular ‘moment-in-time’ projects by examining their current day prevalence and their historical predecessors. The central focus is the 55,000 photographs submitted to One Day for Life (held by the MOA) in 1987, which aimed, in its own time, to be ‘the biggest photographic event the world had ever seen’. Through case studies like this, Mass Photography examines the particular cultural role that amateur photography offers.

New database for the Mass Observation Project launched

A new database for the Mass Observation Project has been launched.


This is a searchable, downloadable database for people wanting to identify available writing from writers contributing to the Mass Observation Project (MOP) 1981 onwards. It is a resource that provides potential users of the MOP with information about the biographical/demographic characteristics and writing behaviours of individual Mass Observation Project writers.
The database is designed to enable users to

  • Identify available writing of individual writers, or groups of writers, based on their individual characteristics, such as year of birth and gender
  • Identify available writing of individual writers, or groups of writers, based on their writing behaviour
  • Search for available writing by theme/directive
  • Use tools that make simple demographic comparisons between writers and the broader population of the UK
  • Identify writers who have been serial responders

View the database here

Giddy App Launched!

GiddyWalk vicariously down memory lane with Giddy, a treasure trove of memories of teenage love, hope, loss, and rebellion.

The Mass Observation Archive is pleased to announce the launch of the Giddy app. The Archive worked on the Giddy project with students from Longhill School who used MOA and ESRO Brighton collections at The Keep to learn about the lives of teenagers in Brighton in 1940s, 50s and 60s.

Giddy Brighton exhibition launched on 7 May, 4-6pm, at the Theatre Foyer Gallery, University of Brighton, Grand Parade BN2 0JY.

Giddy Brighton is an exhibition that explores teenage memories from the post-war years in Brighton & Hove, launching as part of Brighton Festival 2016, alongside the release of the Giddy Brighton app. Archive images and film accompany oral histories, vividly reawakening Brighton & Hove life during the mid-20th century. Visit the exhibition to hear lived memories of Brighton & Hove; first kisses, endless dances, adventures and exploits.


For exhibition details and app download information visit The Giddy website


Giddy Brighton is a Brighton Festival commission, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The National Lesbian & Gay Survey - BBC Radio 4 Writing the Century: The Experience of Love

NLGS bbc

Writer and performer, Christopher Green has developed a new drama project, for BBC Radio 4, based on the Mass Observation Archive’s National Lesbian and Gay Survey (NLGS). The NLGS was set up by Kenneth 

Barrow in the mid 1980s, to record the experiences of ordinary people living under the shadow of oppression such as Section 28 and the AIDS crisis.

In the early 1990s, Christopher became Ken’s buddy, in a scheme organised by the Terrence Higgins Trust. This drama brings contributions from the Archive to life, alongside the story of Christopher who was with Ken in the last few months of his life.

This five-part drama is scheduled to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4, everyday at 10:45 and then again at 19:45, the week beginning the 9th May.

The Mass Observation Archive helps young people in Brighton & Hove make LGBTQ history

into the outsidePhotoworks has been awarded a £47k grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to lead Into the Outside - a learning project with local young people, re-examining their city’s rich LGBTQ past and creating a new archive of queer youth experiences.

Brighton & Hove City Council is contributing an additional £5k together with specialist support from Brighton & Hove Libraries Service.

Around thirty 13-25 year olds will examine how issues faced today by young people identifying as LGBTQ compare with those faced by young LGBTQ people over the past forty years. Participants have been recruited by an open call through social media, schools and community groups. Not all the participants identify as LGBTQ themselves.

Sessions start at Jubilee Library in April 2016 and will include, archive visits, research, oral history training, heritage skills training, photography workshops and other creative activities.

The thirteen-month heritage-learning project will be delivered in collaboration with the Mass Observation Archive. Workshops and activities will also take place at The Keep, a world-class archive resource centre housing the collections of the East Sussex Record Office, the Royal Pavilion and Museums Local History Collections and the University of Sussex Special Collections. Participants will explore a range of archive materials at The Keep, including the National Lesbian and Gay Survey – an extraordinary collection of autobiographical writing and ephemera submitted by over 700 people between 1986 and 1994.

Many other organisations from across the city are also involved including: The East Sussex Records Office, Queer in Brighton and the Brighton & Hove Aldridge Community Academies.

Participants will use new skills to interview other young people at Pride in August 2016 and Brighton Photo Biennial in October 2016. An Into the Outside exhibition will be shown in 2017 and the project will also create an online learning resource aimed at teachers and youth-workers.

What did we collect on the 12th May 2016?

12th May infographic