MASS OBSERVATION ARCHIVE
Papers from the Mass-Observation Archive at the University of Sussex
Part 1: Publications, 1937-1966
Professor James Epstein, Department of History, Vanderbilt University
Mass-Observation was a pioneering social research organisation whose papers provide insights into the cultural and social history of Britain from 1937 to 1965.
Its strength is that it describes everyday life in the words of ordinary people, with extensive interviews and records of overheard conversations, rather than through polls. The collection is also a wonderful source of contemporary ephemera.
Part 1 provides an ideal introduction to the collection by offering all 25 books published by Mass-Observation between 1937 and 1950. These are all now out of print and are held by very few libraries. They address topics such as shopping, drinking, life during the war, and attitudes to royalty. There is also an account of the original aims of Mass-Observation and of their first year's work, where their anthropological and sociological approach is endorsed by Bronislaw Malinowski.