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Mass Observation - Recording everyday life in Britain

Overview of collections

Photo from Worktown collection, taken in Bolton
A photo from the Worktown Collection

The material held by the Mass Observation Archive falls into three categories.

Mass Observation Studies, 1937 - 1955

The Archive holds all the papers generated by the original Mass Observation project between 1937 and 1949, with a few later additions from the 1950s and 1960s. Find out more about the original collections.

Mass Observation project collection, post-1981

The Mass Observation Project was re-launched in 1981 and continues to issue questionnaires (known as 'Directives') to hundreds of volunteers writers (known as 'observers'). We then collate the responses and make them available for research. Find out more about the post-1981 collections.

Related collections

In addition to the original Mass Observation papers, the Archive also holds other collections which relate closely to the historical period and themes of Mass Observation. Many of these are personal papers: diaries, letters, scrapbooks and albums of various kinds. You can search the catalogue records of these collections on The Keep website.