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Day Surveys 1937-38

About 500 men and women kept personal diaries which they sent to Mass-Observation in monthly instalments. No special instructions were given to diarists, and consequently the diaries vary considerably in style and content. Although some people maintained a continuous flow for years on end, other diarists wrote intermittently or for one short period. Most diarists stopped after 1945, although a few carried on well into the postwar years. The last diary received is dated 1967.

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To search the database, enter your search terms in one or more of the boxes, and click Search. Clicking 'Search' without filling in any search terms will give a full list of Day Survey respondents. The database of respondents holds biographical details such as age, occupation, and marital status. The information is strictly anonymous, with all writers being identified by an M-O number only.

About the Day Surveys

The first volunteers were recruited by Charles Madge from his home in Blackheath, London. In February 1937, the volunteers were asked to record in detail everything they did between rising and going to bed on the 12th of that month. The request was repeated for each subsequent month of that year including George VI's Coronation on the 12th May. By the end of the year, over 500 people had participated in this project.

By February 1938, the 12th Day survey had been discontinued; attention was being focused on special days - Bank Holidays, Armistice Day. Time Sheets were sent to members of the volunteer panel so that they could keep fairly precise accounts of how they spent their days.

Directive replies

Mass-Observation began to use its panel to gather other kinds of information. Reports were requested on other special days (Armistice Day, Christmas Day) and on such special topics as reading habits, friendship, smoking and drinking habits, dreams and why people volunteered to join Mass-Observation. At the same time, Mass-Observation asked for views on the political crisis of 1938.