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Mass Observation - Recording everyday life in Britain

Writing for us

Photo of notebook
Your writing gives an insight into everyday life
Police soon after the London bombings
Observers wrote about the London bombings, Photo by Eduardo Oliveira
Couple on a park bench
Directives sometimes ask about close relationships

We send a panel of writers three themed directives each year on both opinion based and personal topics; from thoughts on the forthcoming Olympics and education, to the smoking ban and close relationships. If you would like to see an example of what you would be asked to do, have a look at the current directive.

Correspondents may email, type or write by hand, draw, send photographs, diagrams, cuttings from the press, poems, stories, letters and so on. No stress is placed on "good grammar", spelling or style. The emphasis is on self-expression, candour and a willingness to be a vivid social commentator, and tell a good story.

Help give an insight into everyday life

Mass Observation places a value on subjective experience, and descriptively rich material which can offer insights into everyday life.

If you're interested in becoming an observer, look at our recruitment criteria and read the Frequently Asked Questions.

What happens if you are accepted on the project?

You will then be registered on our database. We will ask you to:

Write a Self Portrait

This can be as long or as short as you wish but it should serve to introduce you to us. You should include your year of birth and your sex, your address, your occupation and some indication of your home life (whether you are married or single, who shares your home and so forth). After that, it is up to you. This Self Portrait is not made public until 50 years later - so you can write as freely as you like.

Complete and return a Biographical Information form

This will provide a very basic outline for researchers. This form will be made available to researchers so you should not include your name.

Send us a recent photo of yourself

Attach a note giving your name, the date the photo was taken and where, and if possible, who took it. This will be kept with your Self Portrait and not made available for research for 50 years.

Complete and return the copyright form

We ask you to do this so that we have a proper understanding with you about the use of your contributions. See the frequently asked questions for further information on copyright and privacy. Once you are on our mailing list, we allocate you a unique number - your M-O number - which you should use on your directive replies instead of your name.