Would you like to keep a one-day diary?

The Mass Observation Archive is calling on the public to chart their opinions, feelings, and experiences in a one-day electronic diary.

The archivists at the University of Sussex will also be teaming up with Brighton’s Open Market to capture a day in the life of the market.

In 1937, Mass Observation invited 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 12 May – the day of King George VI’s coronation.

These diaries provided a glimpse into the everyday lives of all sorts of people in Britain on this day and are now held, along with many other diaries and papers, as part of the University of Sussex's Special Collections at The Keep.

Now, for the sixth year, Mass Observation is repeating its call for diaries written on 12 May.

Mass Observation Project Officer Kirsty Pattrick says: “If you would like to submit an electronic diary, write about what you do, the people who you meet, what you talk about, what you eat and drink, what you buy or sell, what you are working on, the places you visit, the things you read, see and hear around you and of course what you yourself think.”

The resulting diaries will be stored, with the 1937 documents, in the Mass Observation Archive for future generations to study.

The Mass Observation Archive specialises in materials that record everyday life. The project began in the 1930s and ran till the 1950s. The archive materials were moved to the University of Sussex, where the idea was revived by Special Collections in the 1980s.

On 12 May, Mass Observation will be handing out diary packs to shoppers and traders at the Open Market, with the aim of capturing a snapshot of the market and the local community. They will also encourage people to upload photographs online of the market on this day.

The Open Market diary entries will be stored at The Keep along with older materials documenting the market’s past.


Notes for editors

How to take part in the diary project on 12 May:

  • Diaries should be sent in electronic form as email attachments (as word documents or pdfs, preferably) to moa@sussex.ac.uk.

  • Please refrain from including 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 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.

  • If 12th May was a typical day for you please say so. If not, please say why it wasn’t. Any reflections on the day and on how you felt while keeping the diary are welcome.

  • So that Mass Observation 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, they 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.”

An exhibition with some of the diaries sent in as part of the 12 May 2010 diary call can be viewed online.

Mass Observation also welcomes diaries from school children, community groups, or other organisations. Please get in touch if you could like to discuss how your group can take part or download their 12th May diary pack:

12th May diary folder

12th May diary template

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Jacqui Bealing and Ben Steele. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email: press@sussex.ac.uk

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By: Benjamin Steele
Last updated: Wednesday, 6 May 2015