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Beyond Boxes

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £51,300, Beyond Boxes collaborated with three project partners, Blind Veterans UK, the Brighton Housing Trust and HMP Lewes to encourage project participants to share their lived experience, so that the MOA better reflects the diversity of life in Britain today. In doing this, Beyond Boxes also aimed to break down some of the barriers, which prevent people from engaging with archives.

Participants have donated diaries, personal writings, poems, oral recordings, directive responses, drawings and embroideries. This material has been formed as the Beyond Boxes Collection and is held at the MOA when it can be appreciated by visitors to the Keep.

The delivery of the project covered a variety of areas in relation to archives. Below are just some of the highlights.

Read more: Beyond Boxes

Mass Education

Secondary school students at the Mass Education exhibitionThe aim of the Mass Education project was to inspire and engage wider audiences in the Mass Observation Archive. Supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Mass Observation Archive collaborated with schools and community organisations in the South East.

Focusing on Mass Observation diaries and the theme of recording everyday life, the Mass Education project provided schools and community groups opportunities to explore, examine, analyse, debate and learn about daily life in Britain since 1937.

The Mass Education Project worked with five schools in the region including, Downs Junior School, and Dorothy Stringer in Brighton, Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing, Oriel High School in Crawley and St Catherine's Preparatory School in Guildford.

Read more: Mass Education

Voices of the Prison Community

Since 2011 Mass Observation has been developing links with prison librarians nationally as part of our 12th May day diary project. This has resulted in a valuable collection of diaries from both men and women, in varying institutions from youth offending and open prisons to Category B security.

The diary collection acted as a springboard for further activities. In 2013 we were involved in creative writing workshops at Lewes Prison, using Mass Observation Archive material as inspiration. A subsequent University of Sussex pilot research project was undertaken in 2014 and then in Spring 2015 a writing residency was completed in partnership with Mass Observation and The National Archives, culminating in the launch of Unlocked Reflections, an anthology of writings for the wider prison community.

“If you had to ask what people got out of this, you know, I would have to say, this is about confidence”

“I found the ability to write for experienced, sympathetic listeners to comment really eye opening”

“Helps to reflect on how we feel and how we can move on“


Read more: Voices of the Prison Community

SCARLET + 'Voices in Your Pocket' Augmented Reality

The project aimed to produce an Augmented Reality app that would provide a unique experience for our users and researchers. It was funded by Jisc and delivered by Rose Lock, Senior Archivist, University of Sussex Special Collections.

Read more: SCARLET + 'Voices in Your Pocket' Augmented Reality