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University archive in call for diaries full of summer holiday fun

The University of Sussex Mass Observation Archive is pairing up with a national campaign to get people fit and healthy and help them make a little bit of history at the same time.

The Archive is partnering the Government health campaign Change4Life as part of Change4Life's Really Big Summer Adventure.

Young people and their families are invited to keep a 300-word diary of fun activities they take part in on one day - Saturday 13 August 2011. It is one of many summer activities planned as part of the Really Big Summer Adventure to inspire children and adults to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

The diaries can feature pictures as well as words and can cover all sorts of activities such as a competitive sport, a day on the beach or in the park, walks, fetes and carnivals or a summer disco.

The organisers say: "Whatever you're up to, we'd like to know! You can do it as an individual, a family, or a group of friends. The idea is to record the active fun you had so that it forms a snapshot of what people in Britain were doing that day."

Completed entries should be emailed to Entrants can include their names, ages and home towns if they wish, but it's not essential.

The emailed diaries will be posted online - as part of the Mass Observation Online Community project  - for the public to view for five years, before forming part of the permanent Mass Observation Archive collection, housed in the University library. The Archive is used by historians, writers, academics, students and members of the public interested in researching everyday life in the past.

Mass Observation Project Officer Kirsty Pattrick says: "The Mass Observation Archive team at the University of Sussex is delighted to be involved in the day diary project. The Archive contains many diaries written by ordinary people over the past 70 years, often in times of great national importance, which have become an invaluable resource for historians, novelists, dramatists, journalists, academics  and members of the public who want to find out what life was like for ordinary people in the past.

"We hope this new collection of diaries will paint a vivid picture of the summer of 2011 as seen through the eyes of active young people and their families."

Recording what people do in their everyday lives isn't a new idea, but it allows us a wonderful view into the past. We'd love to show a side of life that maybe hasn't been shown before, and that's where we think you could play a part.

Notes for Editors

Please contact the University of Sussex Press office for further information about the Mass Observation Archive.

A few points to remember when submitting your diary

  • All submissions by under-16s for the diary project require consent from a parent or guardian. E
  • Entrants are not identified online unless they have given prior consent - please indicate in your email if you would like to be credited for your entry by name. Anyone clearly identified in any diary must have given their consent for it to be used by the MOCO Project.
  • Entries must be original material.
  •  Entrants' diaries will become part of the permanent Mass Observation Archive following five years online as part of the MOCO Project.
  • See full terms and conditions for further details


Mass Observation is a renowned Archive based at the University of Sussex, which holds all the papers generated by 1930s' social research organisation Mass Observation.

Mass Observation carried out a wide range of studies of everyday life in Britain between 1937 and the 1950s, and is especially rich in material relating to life on the Home Front during the World War Two.

The material includes diaries, letters, photographs, accounts and artefacts. Since 1981 it has continued to work with researchers, University teachers and wider community groups to document and explore everyday life and opinion in contemporary Britain.

For further information, contact the University of Sussex Press office or visit:


Change4Life is a government campaign to inspire change to a healthier lifestyle. See for further details.

See: for full details of the Really Big Summer Adventure  campaign

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

View press releases online at:

Last updated: Monday, 8 August 2011