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MASS OBSERVATION ARCHIVE

Papers from the Mass-Observation Archive at the University of Sussex
Part 3: The Worktown Collection, 1937-1940

"There is a momentum of energy, enterprise, and intellectual courage in the movement; there is goodwill behind it, and indeed there is humility too, in its readiness to cooperate with other scientific workers. ... It has advanced towards that combination of simplicity and sincerity with a passion for fact and principle which is the essence of honest research. In the long run I am convinced that it will substantially contribute to greater national self-knowledge."
Bronislaw Malinowski

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 2 and 3 provide the complete papers describing their first major investigation - an anthropological survey of working class and middle class life in Bolton and Blackpool, 1937-1940.  Part 3 includes extensive evidence gathered concerning Cinema-going (with views on American and European films), Public Health, the Police, Housing, Work (in factories, textile mills and in collieries), urban myths, rude stories, swearing, haymaking, holidays, leisure activities, views of children, and reaction to the progress of fascism in Europe and the Second World War.  There is also much on Blackpool and the annual pilgrimage to its beaches and bingo-halls by people in the North West and Midlands, with tales of dances and holiday romances.



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