Mass Observation wins £44,000 grant to take archive into the community

Children use Mass Observation Archive to learn about the past

Schools, families and community groups in Sussex will have a chance to discover more about the past lives of ordinary people through a new grant awarded to the Mass Observation Archive (MOA) at the University of Sussex.  

The £44,300 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) award will go towards creating activities for school children to learn about the diaries and materials of the MOA and the methods used by its researchers over the past 75 years for capturing moments in history.

Drama and photography will feature among the activities to inspire children at primary and secondary schools in the region to create their own mass observation material.

The project, which runs until November 2014, is also intended to encourage older local residents, families and community groups to visit the MOA’s new home,The Keep, at Woollards’ Field in Brighton, and engage with the archive.

Material produced by the project will feature in the Brighton PhotoBiennial Exhibition in 2014.  The MOA will also produce learning resource packs that would be available online  for schools and community groups nationwide.

In addition, the MOA will collaborate with Bolton University’s Worktown Studies Centre to give 6th form students an opportunity to see how the original MO study of Bolton in 1937 compares with today’s methods.

Suzanne Rose, education outreach officer for the MOA, said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will enable the unique Mass Observation Archive to inspire people of all ages to explore, examine and interpret materials from this rich collection.

“We are inviting schools, community groups and families to get involved in documenting their everyday lives in exciting and innovative ways, bringing Mass Observation out of the archive and into the community and engaging wider audiences than ever before in a programme of creative learning activities.

“We will be working with partners Bolton University and Photoworks to ensure that this project makes an impact both locally within Sussex, but also nationally, by providing opportunities and resources for learning and participation.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “We at the Heritage Lottery Fund are delighted to be supporting this wonderful project, not just for the fascinating collections but because it will spark an interest in heritage amongst so many people. Our historic archives are bursting with stories that give us clues about what life used to be like and how events, people and places from our past have shaped what we are today.”

Notes for editors

For more information about the Mass Observation Archive visit:

For more information contact the University of Sussex Press Office, Jacqui Bealing and Maggie Clune, Tel: 01273 678888, Email:

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About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic palaces to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we inevest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3bn across the UK.


By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Thursday, 6 June 2013