Library

Diaries 1939-65

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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Accuracy of records

The information in these records is still being checked. Please contact the Archive if you would like more information or if you find anomalies.

Publications about the diaries

Two of these diaries have been edited for publication: Nella Last's War and Among You Taking Notes. Extracts from diaries were used in Speak for Yourself and Wartime Women. The Archive has produced a guide to the diary material. Entitled, The Mass-Observation Diaries: an introduction, which is now available in electronic form.