Mass Obs Online : British “anthropology of ourselves”, 1937-1967
The Penn Libraries have acquired the digital collection Mass Observation Online. This resource, digitized from the Archive of Mass-Observation housed at University of Sussex by Adam Matthew Digital, reproduces an enormous body of material that describes everyday life of ordinary people in Britain from the eve of World War II through the mid-1950s and beyond.
Mass Obs Online presents original manuscript and typescript papers, printed publications, and photographs generated through the Mass Obs project. The database provides:
- A complete set of more than 2,000 File Reports (1937-1951, two dozen Mass-Obs books (1937-1950), the research output of the program.
- Day Surveys and Diaries (1937-1967), daily accounts solicited from a national panel of observers.
- Directive Responses and Directive Questionnaires (1939-1955), monthly open-ended surveys distributed to Mass Obs participants.
- Topic collections covering 87 subjects. These contain questionnaires, interviews, observations, and contemporary ephemera on a great variety of topics, including
Smoking habits (1937-1965), Jokes (1939-1947), Games and jigsaws (1937-1941), Anti-semitism (1939-1951), Dreams (1937-1948), Bird-nesting (1951), Household budgeting (1939-1950), and Dogs in wartime (1939-1942).
- The Worktown Collection (1937-1940), documenting conversations and behavior of people in Bolton and Blackpool. The collection is supplemented by 100 photographs of daily life and street scenes from the two cities.
Mass Obs Online includes a map-driven discovery tool for diarists. The Adam Matthew Digital platform provides fulltext searchability for the File Reports and Publications. Materials in the other Mass Obs modules are provided with detailed metadata. Every document may be viewed online, with PDF output offered. The database also includes a brief history of Mass Obs, scholarly essays providing background and suggestions for research strategies, and an interactive contextual chronology.