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Mass-Observation Archive

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File Report Series

Between 1938 and 1950, Mass-Observation staff wrote summaries of the material collected by paid investigators or submitted by volunteer writers. There are approximately 3,000 of these typed "File Reports". They are a good starting-point for research.

Search the File Reports Series

Subject/Title Keyword

Report Number
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To search the catalogue to the File Reports, enter your search terms below. No fields are compulsory: some will be of more relevance than others. Clicking 'Search' without filling in any search terms will give you the full handlist to the File Reports.

About the File Report Series

Scope of reports
The reports vary considerably in length and treatment of topic. In general, they are based on the whole range of Mass-Observation data-collection methods (including material sent to Mass-Observation by members of the volunteer panel in the form of diaries and directive replies as well as drawing on more traditional survey and questionnaire material and observations).

Authorship of the Reports
Almost all the Reports were written by paid full or part-time Mass-Observation personnel based at Mass-Observation’s office in London. On many of the Reports, the initials of the author have been inserted and some names appear regularly. Where no names are given, the authorship is assumed to be collectively "Mass-Observation" but authorship (and credit for work done) often remained unclear. The different drafts may have had several authors, and much of the work was undertaken collaboratively.

'Series' of reports
The sequence also contains a number of Series. These are mostly regularly produced Reports on wartime morale which were sent to the Ministry of Information and which resemble each other in terms of structure and topics covered.

Non Mass-Observation items
The sequence also includes a considerable number of Reports and articles which were not authored or published by Mass-Observation personnel but which were kept by Mass-Observation for their own day-to-day reference within the sequence, and which were transferred with the Mass-Observation material to the University of Sussex.

Published microfiche sequence
The File Report sequence has been published on microfiche and is available commercially for purchase. Please see Mass-Observation website's microform publications page for further details

Catalogue numbering system
The sequence was a working reference resource for Mass-Observation itself, and the original numbering system has been reproduced in the current handlist. Several numbers were unused (they were presumably left so that additional material could be inserted within a chronological sequence). Gaps in the number sequence do not, therefore, represent missing files unless this is explicitly stated. In some cases, one Report has two numbers which may have occurred because there were one or more drafts on the same topic (for example 1322-3). In citing the Report the first number in the sequence should be used.

Gaps in sequence/'missing' reports
There are some gaps in the sequence. In some cases, whole Reports have been lost or mislaid; in other cases, individual pages are absent. These have been marked as "missing" in the list and were identified at the time the Mass-Observation papers were transferred to the University of Sussex. They do not indicate losses since the Archive was established. However, care should be taken in interpreting the word "missing". Those File Reports (or selected pages) which are listed as "missing" may never have existed in the first place, or may in fact exist in another form as another File Report. Many of the Reports are drafts, or compilations of different versions, and the pagination should not be relied upon. Several drafts of the same Report were often produced, and sections from one Report are often reproduced within the body of another. Some of the Reports, both those listed as missing and others, may also be found within the Topic Collection boxes which hold the primary research data upon which the Reports are based.


Mass-Observation Studies 1937-55

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