Getting Involved with History: Mass Observation day on 12th May

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Do you want to get out there and make a little history?

On the 12th of May, through either the University of Sheffield or directly with the Mass Observation Archive itself you can take part in creating a little time capsule of your day that will be recorded for future generations as a sort of time capsule of words.

Wait, why?

On May 12th 1937, on the day of George VI's coronation, the Mass observation called for people from all over the United kingdom to record what they did on that day from their first groaning moments in the morning to their last notes before settling to sleep. In doing so, they hoped to capture a very real snapshot of people's every day lives across the country, whether rich, poor and middling. The tradition has been carried on annually, (with some additional dates in their repertoire), and has provided a remarkable resource for historians, journalists and more who wish to get a real feel for the living breathing past. The hope is, by offering the modern day public to include their own diaries for the day, they can keep building their archive for the future.

Awesome! How Do I Get Involved?

To take part you need to mark the 12th in your diaries as the day you try to make a Samuel Pepys of yourself. Record as much as you can about what you do, who you meet, what you talk about, what you eat, drink, buy, sell, what you;re working on, what you visit, what you read, see and hear around you, how you feel and what you're thinking. If it's a typical day say so, and if it's unusual then say so too. 

To give a little context make sure to note briefly your age, where you live, your relationship status, your present job and any other important info.

Type it all up on a word document AND INCLUDE THE STATEMENT BELOW, or else they won't be able to use your entry in their 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.”

Finally, email it to

Et voila! you have just achieved a little slice of immortality.

Where Can I Learn More?

MO LogoSussex university manages the Mass Observation project, so their website or the Mass Observation twitter account is the best place to have a poke around.
Personally I found the 'occasional papers' section of their website fascinating: here you can find various articles and papers that draw interesting results from having worked with the archives themselves. For example, this student paper on 'Birth and Power'.

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