Monday, March 08, 2010

TRIAL: Mass Observation Online

We have a trial of Mass Observation Online until 2nd April 2010.

To access this trial go to Off-campus users should use the version of Internet Explorer in the Web or Office folders of AppsAnywhere. If we purchased Mass Observation Online we would make off-campus access available through EZproxy as normal.

Mass Observation Online makes digitally available over 110,000 images of material from the Mass Observation (MO) Archive at the University of Sussex. In addition, it also offers integrated access to full listings of Adam Matthew Publications’ existing MO microfilm collections, and the vast holdings of the Mass Observation Archive itself, allowing the user options to search across the entire Archive or by material available digitally.

Items selected for digitisation in Mass Observation Online were chosen from across all MO material types in order to give users the widest possible access to the differing research methods employed by Mass Observation. All selections were made in close collaboration with staff at the Archive, following their expert recommendations based on accessibility, physical condition and thematic variety.

The Update to Mass Observation Online more than doubled the size of digitally-available material, adding over 130,000 greyscale images to the resource. Material for the update was selected following recommendations from scholars using the resource.

Please note that the ‘download entire document in PDF’ option is not available during four-week trials. However, you are still able to view and print images from the collections.

After using Mass Observation Online please leave your comments below. You can choose the anonymous option to comment without needing to have a Blogger account, but it helps if you include your name in your feedback so that we can follow up on comments.


Anonymous said...

This is a really useful resource - there is nothing like Mass Observation anywhere else in the world! Although the electronic version is only a sample of the whole, its searchability (although it's sadly not full text) makes it particularly useful for a wide range of subjects taught in the History Dept - it could also be useful in other humanities and social science fields.

If we subscribe - and we should - I'll certainly be using it as a resource for the Masters in Archives and Records Management programme, both for content and as an example (e.g. for documentation practices, indexing for retrieval, archival digitisation project).

Alex Buchanan (Lecturer in Archive Studies)

Anonymous said...

I will be running a Mass Observation Workshop on 20th March to provide an overview of the project and the uses of the archive:

Sat 20 Mar by Hana Leaper
Enrolment closing date Wed 10 Mar
Started in 1937, the Mass Observation project aimed to bring everyday British life into focus. Spend a day looking at the captivating material contributed by ordinary people in diaries and surveys as they contributed to ‘An Anthropology of Ourselves’
13236 engl 942

More information and enrolment details can be found at

Everybody welcome!
Hana Leaper

Anonymous said...

The MO Archive has a few limitations, as Alex suggests, but it remains an invaluable source. I have four dissertation students working with me in 2010-11 who will make extensive use of it, and I will be setting up a Level 3 special subject for 2011-12, 'Britain and the Second World War', that will include a research project based on the on-line archive. If we are to build a research supervision area around the cultural and social history of modern Britain, it is very important for the Library to provide access to this resource.

A resource such as this is crucial to the development of skills in on-line research, and could also be used in our Level 1 modules to engage students with the nature of archives, testimony, memory and history. It also has many uses in other disciplines, as one of the most fascinating examples of life-writing and popular subjectivity.

The archive is also useful to my own research on civilian bereavement and the war.

Mark Peel
Professor of Modern Cultural and Social History

Andy Davies, School of History said...

This is a terrific resource. It could be used very extensively in students' project work (level 1 upwards) and in dissertations (BA, MA, PhD). There is very rich material here for anyone interested in C20 Britain. The collection is extensive, but easy to navigate. The introductory essays are also very useful.

There is very good material here on C20 British politics as well on many aspects of economic and social life. We could do a lot with it ~ and students would enjoy using it, too. It would lend itself wonderfully well to research-led teaching at all levels, and to group project work.

Anonymous said...

A unique collection, beautifully presented, with endless possibilities for research, inspiration and enjoyment, please subscribe, if only so I can download the diaries to read at leisure!

Ian Meldon (Postgraduate student in Archives and Records Management)

Martha Fogg said...

Hello all. I'm the Editor of Mass Observation Online, and was very interested to read your feedback - and extremely glad you are all enjoying it!

I just wanted to explain why the resource isn't full text, as this is something Alex Buchanan mentioned in his review. We've made the printed File Reports and published MO books full-text searchable. However, other materials types - such as diaries and directives - were a mixture of handwritten and typed pages, and so we were unable to transcribe these. We've invested a lot of time in indexing them instead, which I hope means that they can still be easily searched.

Thanks again,
Martha Fogg (Senior Development Editor, Adam Matthew Digital).