US mini logoHome | A-Z Index | People | Reference | Contact us

Press release

  • 12 November 2008

Archive offers a view of war past and present

A World War Two poster - part of the Mass Observation Archive

A World War Two poster - part of the Mass Observation Archive

War diaries, letters and posters from the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex form part of a special event for the Brighton Photo Biennial (2008).

The collaborative Post Up Project involves photographer Anthony Lam, Professor Dorothy Sheridan, who is Development Director for the Mass Observation Archive, the University Library's Special Collections Manager Fiona Courage and Senior Archive Assistant Jessica Scantlebury.

They have been working with Year 9 pupils from Patcham High School in Brighton and World War II veterans to explore the meaning of war in the 21st century.

The Biennial, the UK's leading photography festival, celebrates international photography. The 2008 festival is entitled Memory of Fire: the War of Images and Images of War. The Post Up Project is part of the 2008 programme and one of the closing events.

The Patcham pupils and World War II veterans took part in workshops at the Mass Observation Archive on the University of Sussex campus, where they were able to look at original materials such as letters, posters and diaries from World War II. Their experience inspired photographs, online writing and displays which will become part of the Archive's collection and a resource for schools, including a teachers' toolkit.

The project ends with a rally-style event, to be held in Jubilee Square, Brighton, from 10am to 4pm on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 November. The event is free and gives the public a chance to take part.

The event includes a parade, peace wall, balloons, banner making and a programmed speakers' corner with short soapbox-style presentations from war veterans, Patcham pupils and BPB 2008 Curator Julian Stallabrass.

Visitors can also find out more about the Mass Observation Archive at the Post Up Hub at the Lighthouse in nearby Kensington Street. The indoor event features information about the Archive as well as a live Biennial Blog and diary room-style interviews with members of the public.

Dorothy Sheridan, Development Director of the Mass Observation Archive for the University of Sussex, says: "Working with the Brighton Photo Biennial is another example of how the Mass Observation Archive is ideally placed to participate in community initiatives. The workshops have not only enabled people from different age groups and with very different life experiences to meet and talk to each other but they have also created an opportunity for the participants to visit the University to meet, Special Collections staff and handle and enjoy our archival materials.

"The relationships which have been fostered will continue long after the specific project ends and we are planning more work with Patcham High School."

The project was made possible by funding from the Museums Libraries and Archives Council Their Past Your Future programme, a Big Lottery-funded learning initiative that focuses on the impact and legacy of conflict around the world.

Notes for editors

  • The Mass Observation Archive specialises in material about everyday life in Britain. It contains papers generated by the original Mass Observation social research organisation (1937 to early 1950s), and newer material collected continuously since 1981. The Archive is in the care of the University of Sussex and is housed in the Library in Special Collections. See: Mass_Observation


  • Post Up is a free event, open to the public and takes place as part of the Brighton Photo Biennial 2008 on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 November in Jubilee Square, Brighton, 10am to 4pm (Mass Observation information, diary room and blog at the Project Hub, Lighthouse Gallery, 28 Kensington Street, Brighton, 10am to 4pm). The Post Up project is a collaboration between the Mass Observation Archive and Brighton Photo Biennial, supported by funding from the Their Past Your Future 2 Programme, through the Government agency the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). Post Up is also part of Brighton and Hove City Council's Celebrating Age Festival. To learn more about Post Up, see: Post_Up


  • To find out more about Brighton Photo Biennial 2008, see BPB


  • For information about the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council see


University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Danielle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888 or email



Useful links

Site maintained by: Web team Disclaimer | Feedback