mo logo red

Contact us:

Phone: +44 (0)1273 337515

Email: moa@sussex.ac.uk

Wednesday 12th May 2021: Would you like to keep a one-day diary for Mass Observation?

may12th 4On the 12th May 2021, the Mass Observation Archive will be repeating its annual call for day diaries, capturing the everyday lives of people across the UK. The written diaries will be stored in the Archive at The Keep and be used by a wide range of people for research, teaching and learning.

In 1937 Mass Observation called for people from all parts of the UK to record everything they did from when they woke up in the morning to when they went to sleep at night on 12th May. This was the day of George VI’s Coronation. The resulting diaries provide a wonderful glimpse into the everyday lives of people across Britain and have become an invaluable resource for those researching countless aspects of the era.

We don’t know how life will be on the 12th May, but we would like your help to document it. Please tell your family and friends. It will be valuable to have a collection from people of all ages across the UK.

Last year we received over 5000 diaries.

We would love to hear from you again to find out how your life is a year on.

We understand it has been a very difficult year and we were touched that so many people chose to share their stories with Mass Observation.

If you didn't send a diary in last year, why not join in this year and tell us about your life now in 2021?

Diaries can record 12th May and reflect back over the past year and look forward to the future and life beyond this year. 

Share your lives, your hopes and your dreams with Mass Observation for future generations.

How to take part

Ideally, diaries should be in electronic form as email attachments (Word documents preferably) and sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We will accept physical/hard-copy diaries but advise that these are posted after the period of lockdown. 

Please don’t include your real name, contact details, or the personal details of the people mentioned in your diary. Please remember that these diaries will be read and used for research and teaching, so please don’t include anything that may identify you or others.

You should include a brief self portrait: your age, where you live, your relationship status, your present job or occupation if you are working and any other information that you think is important to record.

Any reflections on the day and on how you felt while keeping the diary are welcome. 

So that we can add your diary to the rest of the Archive for the future, please include the statement below at the end of your diary. If you don’t attach this statement, we won’t be able to keep your diary or make it part of the Archive.

“I donate my 12th May diary to the Mass Observation Archive. I consent to it being made publicly available as part of the Archive and assign my copyright in the diary to the Mass Observation Archive Trustees so that it can be reproduced in full or in part on websites, in publications and in broadcasts as approved by the Mass Observation Trustees. I agree to the Mass Observation Archive assuming the role of Data Controller and the Archive will be responsible for the collection and processing of personal data and ensuring that such data complies with the DPA.”

You can also take part on Twitter. Tweet your day using the hashtag #12May21

Schools and Community Groups

We really welcome diaries from school children, community groups, or other organisations. Diaries can be written in any style and can include drawings. 

These packs are designed for schools and groups wanting to post their diaries to the Archive. Individuals can also use the diary template to submit their entry if they wish but please complete only the first page.

download icon12th May diary folder (For school and community groups)

download icon12th May diary template (For school and community groups)