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MASS OBSERVATION ARCHIVE

Papers from the Mass-Observation Archive at the University of Sussex
Part 7: Topic Collections - Air-Raids, Morale and the Blitz

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.

Parts 4-12 cover the majority of the Topic Collections, which bring together the primary material collected by Mass-Observation's studies from 1937 onwards. By accessing this original data, scholars are able to form their own conclusions about the many topics which were investigated. Part 7 includes material on life in Britain during World War II, including:

  • Air-Raids (describing preparations, the role of the ARP, the black-out, tube-shelters, homelessness, and raids in places all over Britain such as Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Swindon and York);
  • Propaganda and Morale (analysis of the effectiveness of various campaigns, appeals for recycling, and accounts of public morale);
  • The Blitz (the famous London Survey, 1940, giving a week by week description of events, reaction to news, and account of public feeling).

"... thrill after thrill shook me.  In particular, candid not-for-publication reports on the effects of Luftwaffe raids on provincial cities offered a wholly new perspective on Britain's Blitz."
Angus Calder,
Open University



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